the next aspartame
Another Concern for the
The FDA approved the use of Neotame as a
nonnutritive sweetener in food. Neotame is nothing more than a reformulated aspartame that
will require smaller amounts than aspartame to achieve the same sweetness. Since Neotame
will be protected under a new patent, it provides its producer with new patent protection.
(The patent on aspartame has run out.) Neotame, like aspartame, contains aspartic acid,
phenylalanine, and a methyl esther.
Neuroscientists have found, in animal
studies, that aspartic acid and glutamic acid load on the same receptors in the brain,
cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, and act in an additive
fashion. People who are sensitive to processed free glutamic acid (MSG) experience similar
reactions to aspartame, and people who are sensitive to aspartame experience similar
reactions to MSG, providing that they ingest amounts of the substances that exceed their
tolerances for MSG/aspartame.
Neotame - The New Version of
Is neotame just another form of
aspartame? Im afraid so. Neotame is a modified version of aspartame, containing all the
same elements found in aspartame and more: the amino acids L-aspartic acid and
L-phenylalanine, plus two organic groups, one known as a methyl ester group and the other
as a neohexyl group. Joined together, these components equal 8,000 teaspoons of sugar.
At 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than
sugar, neotame is the most potent sweetener marketed today. Neotame has changed hands from
its original patent holder Monsanto Chemical Company, to The NutraSweet Co., to J. W.
Childs Partnership, and now to Pharmacia. Like aspartame, neotame is a very potent and
questionable compound, but it does not have to carry the PKU warning, as aspartame is
required by law to do, so its addition to all products goes without warning. I see this as
a serious problem for those with PKU, who carry the PKU gene, and are PKU recessive.
As its patent for aspartame was running
out, the manufacturer developed a new, more potent version of the synthetic sweetener. By
adding 3-dimethylbutl (a chemical the Environmental Protection Agency lists as hazardous)
to aspartame, scientists drastically increased its sweetening power.
Hersey also weighs in on the controversy
surrounding the FDA's approval of neotame, including some critics' claims that some of the
industry-funded studies had few subjects, flawed protocols, and were extremely short-term
(as short as one day). Evidently, some subjects reported headaches after ingesting
neotame, but the industry researchers concluded that they were not related to neotame
ingestion. (The fact that migraine headaches are the most commonly reported negative
reaction to aspartame in the FDA's files was not mentioned in their report.)
Hersey points out that although the FDA
approved neotame in 2002, Europe has still not accepted it.
Neotame is not marketed directly to
consumers as a tabletop sweetener but is used in several hundred different food products
(including baked goods), often combined with other artificial sweeteners. Because this
sweetener is 7000 to 13000 times as sweet as sugar (and 30 times sweeter than aspartame)
only a tiny amount is needed.
"Unfortunately, it's possible that
neotame could be used in some foods without being listed, since the FDA doesn't require
labels to include ingredients that make up less than one percent of a product" says
These are indeed extremely high levels
for adducts of formaldehyde, a substance responsible for chronic deleterious effects (33)
that has also been considered carcinogenic.
"It is concluded that aspartame consumption may constitute a hazard because of its
contribution to the formation of formaldehyde adducts." [Life Sci., Vol. 63, No. 5,
pp. 337+, 1998]
Is Neotame a Neurotoxin Like
Neotame has similar structure to
aspartame -- except that, from it's structure, appears to be even more toxic than
aspartame. This potential increase in toxicity will make up for the fact that less will be
used in diet drinks. Like aspartame, some of the concerns include gradual neurotoxic and
immunotoxic damage from the combination of the formaldehyde metabolite (which is toxic at
extremely low doses) and the excitotoxic amino acid. Given all of the suffering being
caused by Monsanto's aspartame, the prudent course would be to start out with the
assumption that it may cause toxic damage or cancer from long-term exposure and conduct
many thorough, long-term, and independent human studies to see the effects.
It is obvious to anyone who has
thoroughly read the scientific literature on aspartame that 1) nearly 100% of the
independent studies found problems with aspartame (Monsanto's studies never showed
problems); and 2) that industry-funded studies bordered on fraudulent research (and a
Grand Jury was convened because the officials wanted to pursue fraud charges).
A line of neotame-based blends, produced
by Sweetener Solutions LLC (Savannah, Ga.), a strategic partner of The NutraSweet
Co., and distributed exclusively by Univar USA (Kirkland, Wash.), provides
formulators with ingredients that can be used as both a general sweetener and flavor