by Ethan Huff
February 12, 2010
In response to growing awareness about
the dangers of artificial sweeteners, what does the manufacturer of
one of the world's most notable artificial sweeteners do? Why,
rename it and begin marketing it as natural, of course.
This is precisely the strategy of
Ajinomoto, maker of
aspartame, which hopes to pull the wool over the eyes of
the public with its rebranded version of aspartame, called "AminoSweet".
Over 25 years ago, aspartame was first introduced into the European
food supply. Today, it is an everyday component of most diet
beverages, sugar-free desserts, and chewing gums in countries
worldwide. But the tides have been turning as the general public is
waking up to the truth about artificial sweeteners like aspartame
and the harm they cause to health.
The latest aspartame marketing scheme is
a desperate effort to indoctrinate the public into accepting the
chemical sweetener as natural and safe, despite evidence to the
Aspartame was an accidental discovery by James Schlatter, a
chemist who had been trying to produce an anti-ulcer pharmaceutical
drug for G.D. Searle & Company back in 1965.
Upon mixing aspartic
acid and phenylalanine, two naturally-occurring amino acids, he
discovered that the new compound had a sweet taste. The company
merely changed its FDA approval application from drug to food
additive and, voila, aspartame was born.
G.D. Searle & Company first
patented aspartame in 1970. An internal memo released in the same
year urged company executives to work on getting the FDA into the
"habit of saying yes" and of encouraging a "subconscious spirit of
participation" in getting the chemical approved.
G.D. Searle & Company submitted its first petition to the FDA
in 1973 and fought for years to gain FDA approval, submitting its
own safety studies that many believed were inadequate and deceptive.
Despite numerous objections, including one from its own scientists,
the company was able to convince the FDA to approve aspartame for
commercial use in a few products in 1974, igniting a blaze of
In 1976, then FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt wrote a
letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy expressing concern over the,
"questionable integrity of the basic
safety data submitted for aspartame safety".
FDA Chief Counsel Richard Merrill
believed that a grand jury should investigate G.D. Searle & Company
for lying about the safety of aspartame in its reports and for
concealing evidence proving the chemical is unsafe for consumption.
Despite the myriad of evidence gained over the years showing
that aspartame is a dangerous toxin, it has remained on the
global market with the exception of a few countries that have banned
it. In fact, it continued to gain approval for use in new types of
food despite evidence showing that it causes neurological brain
damage, cancerous tumors, and endocrine disruption, among other
The details of aspartame's history are lengthy, but the point
remains that the carcinogen was illegitimately approved as a food
additive through heavy-handed prodding by a powerful corporation
with its own interests in mind. Practically all drugs and food
additives are approved by the FDA not because science shows they are
safe but because companies essentially lobby
the FDA with monetary payoffs and
complete the agency's multi-million dollar approval process.
Changing aspartame's name to something that is "appealing and
memorable", in Ajinomoto's own words, may hoodwink some but
hopefully most will reject this clever marketing tactic as nothing
more than a desperate attempt to preserve the company's
multi-billion dollar cash cow.
Do not be deceived.