Category Archives: Acesulfame-K

Diet Pepsi now free of aspartame, but don’t get too excited yet …

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 1.11.43 PMIt’s always excited to see food and beverage manufacturers responding positively to consumer sentiment. As we become more educated and aware and make our voices heard through decreased sales, we see manufacturers changing their ingredients in an attempt to get back into our good graces. That’s all positive and rightfully deserves our attention. Pepsi is the latest manufacturer to listen to consumers., however, needs ask a few significant questions. Just how much have they listened? Was it enough?

Spurred by falling sales and consumer safety concerns, PepsiCo North America Beverages announced on Friday that an aspartame-free Diet Pepsi — sweetened with sucralose and ace-K — will hit shelves some time in August. Pepsi executives say the new Diet Pepsi sweetener formulation tastes the same as the old one.

Large lettering on the new Diet Pepsi cans and packaging will shout: “Now Aspartame Free.”
For many consumers — who fear aspartame’s side effects — and for PepsiCo, which has seen Diet Pepsi sales tumble over the past several years, the change can’t come soon enough. Last year, Diet Pepsi volume was down -5.2% and Diet Coke volume was down -6.6% in the U.S., reports Beverage Digest, the industry trade publication.

PepsiCo has spent years trying to develop a new Diet Pepsi sweetener that would placate consumer concerns but still appeal to consumer tastes. The move would seem to put pressure on arch-rival Coke, which also has seen Diet Coke sales slump, to make a similar move.

“To Diet Pepsi consumers, removing aspartame is their No. 1 one concern,” says Seth Kaufman, senior vice president of Pepsi and flavors. “We’re listening to consumers. It’s what they want.”
Pepsi could no longer afford to sit back and simply watch its Diet Pepsi sales keep falling.
“This is an aggressive move by Pepsi. It has the potential of helping Pepsi recruit new and lapsed users for Diet Pepsi,” said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. But the move also has some risk, he says. It could confuse some loyal Diet Pepsi users, though it is the sweetener blend that’s changing, not the flavor formula.”

The change applies to all versions of Diet Pepsi, such as Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi sold in the U.S. Diet Pepsi was introduced in 1964, with saccharin as its sweetener. It was reformulated with aspartame in 1983, and then switched to a blend of aspartame and ace-K in 2013.

While critics of aspartame say they are pleased with the move, one critic says that the new sweetener still has a problem: ace-K.

“Diet Pepsi will still contain acesulfame-potassium (ace-K). Consumers should avoid that sweetener as well,” warns Michael Jacobson, director of Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. “It is poorly tested, but the tests done by the manufacturer in the 1970s suggest that ace-K, too, might pose a cancer risk.”

Pepsi officials strongly deny that. “Decades of studies have shown that the sweeteners we use are safe,” says spokeswoman Elisa Baker.

For that matter, Kaufman insists it is changing consumer preferences — not a safety issue — that led PepsiCo to make the change: “Decades of studies have shown that aspartame is safe. This is not about safety.”

But Jacobson says scientific studies have shown a link between aspartame and cancer. “Three top-quality studies have found that aspartame causes cancer in animals, so the less that people consume the better,” he says.

One medical expert, however, disagrees. “Aspartame’s safety in the quantities the general public consumes has been established as safe many, many times over,” says Rebecca Blake, director of clinical nutrition at New York’s Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “The research does not yet support a greater level of safety among the ‘more natural’ sweeteners.”

For the moment, PepsiCo says it has no plans to replace aspartame in other diet beverages, including Diet Mountain Dew, which also has seen a sales decline.

Jacobson, the consumer advocate, says the best thing is probably to avoid most colas altogether. “My best advice is to refresh yourself with water, seltzer water, or flavored waters.”

While it’s encouraging to see Pepsi respond to consumer sentiment, the company seems to have missed the idea that ace-K is another concern for consumers. In an attempt to make Diet Pepsi “less bad,” they appear to want to pacify customers by the removal of one controversial artificial sweetener while ignoring the other.

Of course, soda is still soda — changing up the sweeteners won’t do much for the remainder of the chemicals in the concoction. While we appreciate the effort of any manufacturer trying to improve their products in response to the voices of their consumers, Diet Pepsi is soda and soda isn’t good for anyone. And ace-K is still a problem. Nice try, though.

The correlation between your brain’s perception of sweetness and carbonation has followed a lot of information that’s come to the forefront about artificial sweeteners and diet soda. We know that artificial sweeteners are chemical concoctions that serve no purpose nutritionally and have been linked to cancer. Interestingly, in the last 12 months, studies have linked drinking diet soda to diabetes and weight gain, negating their original purpose in the food supply.

Today we came across a new study that sheds new light on why artificial sweeteners may be adding to the obesity crisis. Carbonation, an essential component of popular soft drinks, alters the brain’s perception of sweetness and makes it difficult for the brain to determine the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners, according to a new article in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

“This study proves that the right combination of carbonation and artificial sweeteners can leave the sweet taste of diet drinks indistinguishable from normal drinks,” said study author, Rosario Cuomo, associate professor, gastroenterology, department of clinical medicine and surgery, “Federico II” University, Naples, Italy. “Tricking the brain about the type of sweet could be advantageous to weight loss – it facilitates the consumption of low-calorie drinks because their taste is perceived as pleasant as the sugary, calorie-laden drink.”

The study identifies, however, that there is a downside to this effect; the combination of carbonation and sugar may stimulate increased sugar and food consumption since the brain perceives less sugar intake and energy balance is impaired. This interpretation might better explain the prevalence of eating disorders, metabolic diseases and obesity among diet-soda drinkers.

Investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging to monitor changes in regional brain activity in response to naturally or artificially sweetened carbonated beverages. The findings were a result of the integration of information on gastric fullness and on nutrient depletion conveyed to the brain.

Future studies combining analysis of carbonation effect on sweetness detection in taste buds and responses elicited by the carbonated sweetened beverages in the gastrointestinal cavity will be required to further clarify the puzzling link between reduced calorie intake with diet drinks and increased incidence of obesity and metabolic diseases. has never been a fan of soda consumption. Sugary sodas and diet sodas alike are chemical formulations in cans and bottles. They do nothing to fulfill our nutritional requirements and replace better beverages in our diets. The allure of zero calories for consumers is quite powerful and often people believe that as long as something is “diet” it’s a better choice. We are hopeful that information regarding the many downsides of artificial sweeteners helps consumers to understand that these beverages are not healthier options. While we certainly don’t need the equivalent of a little over 10 teaspoons of sugar in the average can of soda, we also don’t need an artificial substance replacing that sugar – especially since it appears that in the long run, people can gain weight just as easily relying on zero calorie sweeteners. Let’s help others in our network become more nutritionally aware of the health effects of diet sodas!

More ban attempts from the Big Apple is tracking more news on attempted beverage bans in New York City. First came Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large-sized sugary beverages being sold in the city. Now New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman is conducting an investigation into energy drink manufacturers based on deceiving consumers regarding their products health risks.

Now, please don’t get us wrong. is no fan of energy drinks – evidenced by the health scores most receive on our site. But we’re fairly shocked that the probe being conducted is focused on how accurately companies are disclosing the amount of caffeine in these beverages. The companies that have been subpoenaed are Monster Beverage, PepsiCo and Living Essentials (5 Hour Energy). The focus of the investigations appears to be on the possibility of caffeine-laden ingredients that are not included on the product labels. Things like black tea extract or guarana (which has already proven to be dangerous).

So, why is FoodFacts having a problem with this? Well, if you take a good look at the brands in question, we’re wondering why caffeine is the focus of the probe. Certainly, if manufacturers are including ingredients in their beverages that they are not listing on the label, they should be made to change their actions. But … why isn’t the government focusing on ingredients like Benzoic Acid, Acesulfame Potassium and Caramel Color?

Benzoic Acid (which is present in almost all of these products) has been studied in rats, cats and rabbits and has shown different degrees of toxicity. Symptoms can include hypoactivity, emaciation, diarrhea, muscle weakness and tremors. Benzoic Acid in humans has been linked to rashes, asthma, inflammation of nasal mucus membranes and anaphylactic shock in some cases.

The presence of this ingredient alone should alert the government that caffeine isn’t the only concern here. So why isn’t anyone talking about the other problematic ingredients included in energy drinks?

We know that energy drinks have quickly become a multimillion dollar industry. We know they are not healthy options. And we also know that too much caffeine in a person’s diet can cause major problems. But for, that’s the whole point. We all know that too much caffeine isn’t good for us. But how many consumers actually understand that Benzoic Acid and Acesulfame Potassium – to name just two of the ingredients that are commonly included in these beverages – can cause major health problems.

Why is the concern about misleading consumers focused strictly on caffeine? Why isn’t there a concern that consumers are being misled about the other potentially harmful ingredients included in energy drinks? And why is the government focusing only on the ingredient that consumers are already familiar with and already have a general understanding of? Hate to say it, but perhaps there are fewer lobbyists attempting to get the ear of the government for caffeine than there may be for other additives. Just a guess …

We stand firmly behind the idea that consumers need to be educated regarding the ingredients in our food supply. ALL ingredients. Not just caffeine … which most consumers are fairly familiar with and understand more than Benzoic Acid. So for the Attorney General of New York City: would really appreciate a more educated, expanded view of why energy drinks might need regulation. We’re betting most consumers would actually appreciate it too.

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Food Additves to Avoid: Acesulfame-K

sugar wants to make you more aware of what controversial ingredients are being put into our foods. Acesulfame-K, also known as acesulfame potassium, represents one of the food additives used for sweetening aliments and drinks. Our body does not metabolize this food additive, so it is passed in urine, thus having no caloric value. This makes it a viable alternative to sugar in numerous diet drinks and foods. However, caution is required when consuming foods containing this artificial sweetener, as it is not totally safe.
Comparison between Acesulfame-K and Other Sweeteners
It is possible to compare the saccharinity of food additives, in order to determine which one is more potent. In terms of sweetness, acesulfame-K is:

■One-quarter as sweet as sucralose
■Nearly half as sweet as saccharin
■Equal to aspartame
■Between 180 and 200 times as sweet as table sugar (sucrose)
Keep in mind that acesulfame-K is frequently mixed with other similar food additives, such as aspartame or sucralose.

Foods Containing Acesulfame-K
Acesulfame-K is often added to baked foods or to foods that have a long shelf life, because this food additive does not decompose in the presence of heat. Aspartame, on the other hand, is not stable in such conditions. Acesulfame potassium is added to a wide range of products, some of the most important being:
■Alcoholic drinks
■Chewing gum
■Gelatin desserts
It is best to check the ingredient list, in order to see whether acesulfame-K or other similar food additives are included. However, this artificial sweetener is not only present in foods and drinks, but also in pharmaceutical products, such as chewable and liquid drugs, as acesulfame potassium is able to improve their taste. Acesulfame-K does not promote dental caries, but there are many other numerous reasons to avoid it, as it may pose serious threats to your health.

Reasons to Avoid Acesulfame Potassium
Acesulfame-K has been approved by the US FDA, but there are several potential problems correlated with consumption of this food additive. Even though there are many studies that attest its safety, acesulfame potassium is still suspected of causing benign thyroid tumors. In rats, the development of such tumors took only 3 months, a period in which the concentration of this additive in the consumed food was between 1 and 5 percent. This is a very short period of time, so the substance is believed to have significant carcinogenic properties.

Methylene chloride, a solvent used in the manufacture of acesulfame potassium, is the substance that may give the food additive its potential carcinogenic characteristics. In addition, exposure to methylene chloride for long periods of time may lead to such side effects as:
■Breast tumors
■Chronic respiratory disease
■Kidney and liver problems
■Lung tumors
■Mental confusion
■Visual disturbances
Acesulfame potassium may also increase the appetite, by tricking the satiety signals of our body. When consuming products that contain this artificial sweetener, cravings for extremely sweet foods may develop. In these conditions, taste perception is changed and the taste of fruits and vegetables do not feel tasty anymore.

Insulin secretion increases considerably when consuming foods rich in acesulfame-K. Also, the feelings of low blood sugar will intensify. All these problems make the safety of acesulfame potassium questionable. Additional long-term studies may be required for revealing the true benefits and downsides of this artificial sweetener.

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