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Neotame - the next aspartame

Another Concern for the MSG-Sensitive Individual

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 Aspartame

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 Hersey.

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 Aspartame?

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 enhancer.

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