Aspartame-Free Diet Pepsi is Here

pepsicanI would be remiss if I didn’t pen a brief follow-up on a post I wrote a few months back about PepsiCo removing aspartame from Diet Pepsi in hopes of increasing lagging sales. The new formulation hit the shelves last week to a very little fanfare from some news outlets (but not, at least in my area, any rush to the stores to try it out). Whether it does in the long run what PepsiCo hopes it will do — boost sales — remains to be seen.

The press release accompanying the launch is careful to point out that this is a move made in response to consumer demand, not because of any real danger aspartame presented to Diet Pepsi drinkers.  This is important to note only in that I guarantee, in the future, we will see natural health types and food rangers claim PepsiCo did this because aspartame was dangerous. They did not. They did it because sales were down and because a lot of customers complained about aspartame.

Not that the move has gotten PepsiCo out of hot water with its critics. Already, there are voices speaking out against the new formulation, a combination of sucralose (widely known as Splenda) and acesulfame potassium, or ace-k. In its coverage of the new formula, USA Today quoted the Center for Science in the Public interest as saying that aces-k was “poorly tested” and warning that “the tests done by the manufacturer in the 1970s suggest that ace-K, too, might pose a cancer risk.” It should be noted that neither the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) currently voice concerns over ace-k.

As for how it tastes? Purely subjective view is that I like it better than the old Diet Pepsi; but then, I was always one who got a nasty aftertaste from the aspartame formula. My daughter Dawn (she of the chemicals in soda post) never tried aspartame-sweetened Diet Pepsi, but she joined me in the new-formula taste test. She thought it wasn’t as sweet as regular Pepsi but that she’d “drink it again.” YMMV.

About Alison Hudson

Alison is a writer and educator living near Ann Arbor, MI. She blogs regularly about skepticism, games, and the transgender experience.
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29 Responses to Aspartame-Free Diet Pepsi is Here

  1. “…aces-k was “poorly tested”…”
    Try to please everybody and someone won’t like your being so conciliatory…

  2. Matt Y says:

    Great post, nice to get some follow up!

  3. Rich Murray says:

    Hello Alison Hudson,

    I’m a John McDougall vegan since 1999 —

    now 73, an asexual, I also still share quality scientific information about methanol toxicity from

    cigarette and wood smoke;
    dark wines liquors fruit brandies; […]

    • Alison Hudson says:

      Please don’t just C&P long passages from outside sources. Reference them, but be sure to put them in your own words and in the context of the subject at hand.

      I have trimmed most of the copied content but left the link in case anyone is interested in what it has to say.

    • Nick says:

      @Rich Murray:

      Interesting to note from your own data (which I have not confirmed)…
      12 oz diet soda: 24.74 methanol
      8 oz serving of juice : 18Mg methanol, [so presumably
      12 oz serving of juice: 27Mg methanol]
      So, glass for glass or pound for pound, juice is presumably WORSE for you than diet soda?

      Purely anecdotal evidence of my own: I know several mums of autistic kids who drink ZERO (or very near zero) diet pop, sweeteners, “lo” yogurts, no “dark wines liquors fruit brandies” during or shortly before pregnancy, don’t smoke, don’t eat particularly noteworthy quantities of tomatoes, blackcurrant, or whatever that “preserved wet at room temperature” was. They PROBABLY drank fairly “normal” quantities of fruit juice. I am NOT about to give irrational medical advice about avoiding juice during pregnancy BTW.

      Of course I welcome further study, especially if it can be independently replicated. In the meantime I feel obliged to take this with the same pinch of salt that I reserve for all the other unverified, unrepeated, non-rigorous, scare-mongery autism studies in the world :-/

      • Nick trust me don’t waste your time there is no logic rich cannot ignore.

      • Rich Murray says:


        I am encouraged that you are willing to discuss specific points of evidence, as I am a messenger or water boy, who has been shot multiply since 1999, but, actually happily, persist in seeking to open up reason and specific evidence based dialogues for the highest benefit of our world.

        As a medical research layman, I can only establish credibility by relying on direct quotes from reputable mainstream sources — so I am careful about writing summaries in my own words.

        Alison Hudson kindly kept the link to my full plain text version of a recent seminal peer-reviewed study and introduction about the methanol paradigm by WC Monte and his distinguished collaborator RG Walton — in which I give the many free full text references that are at WhileScienceSleeps .

        Well, being so simple, it is certain to be rapidly disconfirmed or confirmed — may evidence win! How many “food allergies” may be chronic methanol toxicity?

        There you will find his referenced advice for avoiding methanol, and, true but sad, that includes all unfresh colored nonstarchy vegetables that have been cut up, heated, and sealed wet at room temperatures for days and months in cans jars and plastics, as many references exist that give far higher levels of methanol buildup than in diet drinks, due to natural degradation of the pectins that make up the cell walls. Note how this is standard fare in hospitals, prisons, senior care facilities, and schools…

        This has been a stealth disaster since rich people started using canned fruits juices and vegetables in Europe about 1830, when the first cases of MS were described.

        MS, Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis and breast cancers have increased after machine production of cigarettes in 1887 ( 40 mg methanol per pack found in studies in Berlin in 1926), use of low cost pure methanol in patent medicines and cough syrups from 1900 to 1940, donation of weekly carton of addictive cigarettes to millions of women in defense industries in WWII, aspartame in 1981, and, yes, “healthy” fruit juices in vending machines and gallon jugs everywhere.

        Did you ever hear about methanol being a major factor in cigarette smoke?

    • Rich still selling the methanol toxicity…..
      Welcome again to endless links of unreplicated poorly controlled pilot studies. Hello again to the person who steadfastly refuses to understand metabolic process- intracellular carbohydrate and protein metabolism or dose related toxicity. The guy who never found a positive study he can’t love and and a negative study he can’t ignore. lol 🙂

  4. William says:

    Keep spinning the pot in the name of logic and science, lady. The gaps in the data and studies on either side of the coin don’t equate reality, but keep spoonfeeding those who need to be spoonfed.

  5. Rich Murray says:

    Hello Alison Hudson,

    thanks for clarifying how I should best share to have my posts accepted on your blog.

    First I include a P and C from WC Monte’s low-cost Kindle ebook on — which has hundreds of references that are all mostly full texts on his online bibliography at .

    Then I render the material into my own words, which you may choose to put on your blog, and deleting my direct quote of his text — this way you can verify that my own words are accurate. Of course, I have studied his paradigm since fall, 2007.

    Download a free copy of Chapter 9 and have a read

    [ 99 pages, including list of all 782 full text online references for book — Chapter 9 has 146 references ]:

    Chapter 9 Multiple Sclerosis

    Prof. Woodrow C. Monte, page 17, Chapter 3, “While Science Sleeps” textbook 2012 January (Kindle Locations 806-812)

    “The ADH enzyme is found dissolved in the cell‘s fluid, or cytosol. 531

    This makes ADH a free agent that can float around the cell unencumbered, releasing formaldehyde from methanol wherever it happens to be within the cell at the time.

    Nothing can then restrain the reactive formaldehyde;

    it is free to leave the cell or travel to the nucleus or other sensitive areas within the cell, where serious damage (such as methylation [ of DNA and RNA ]) can be done.

    Whether within the cell or outside it, the necessary enzyme that would [ safely] convert formaldehyde to the next metabolite, formic acid, is, at the very least, a considerable distance away…

    Vision is the one major responsibility of ADH that is well understood, and the retina is one of the sites where ADH is located.

    In fact, ADH is the enzyme that makes vision possible 663 by metabolizing the alcohol form of Vitamin A, which begins the process that initiates the eye‘s signal to the brain.

    This connection of ADH to vision can account for the phenomenon of blindness, both temporary and permanent, and other strange visual signs and symptoms associated with both methanol toxicity and multiple sclerosis.”
    663. free full text pdf 10 pages [ total 782 free references available ]

    Eur. J. Biochem. 267, 4315-4324 (2000) c FEBS 2000
    Families of retinoid dehydrogenases regulating vitamin A function
    Production of visual pigment and retinoic acid
    Gregg Duester

    Retinal dehydrogenase, in humans only, turns methanol into uncontrolled, free floating, highly reactive formaldehyde hydrate FH right inside the rod and cone cells of the retina.

    FH quickly bonds durably with the first DNA, RNA, or large protein molecules encountered, causing cumulative random malfunctions, including gluing these molecules together — this is how formaldehyde in large amounts functions as an antiseptic, tissue preservative, and embalming agent, as is widely known.

    Temporary blindness is rare for a toxin, but happens in humans only both from acute methanol toxicity or multiple sclerosis, thus hinting that chronic methanol may be the unknown primary cause of MS.

    Once this possibility of serious cumulative toxicity in humans from chronic low-level methanol in 20 tissues is understood, then normal science will easily disconfirm or benefit, according to simple direct evidence.

    • mudguts says:

      Whoa.. took a while to find an end to this.

      Thanx Alison for giving us the news that somebody has undergone another market ploy.

      I had to laugh at Brians comment.. He has admitted to drinking a lot of soft drink in his skeptoid show a few years back.

      I note you have a new loon nonsense writer following you around concerning methanol and his lack of understanding on the issue.

      Thanx for the post.

    • Rich Murray says:

      I managed to forget to actually provide these links, so you can consider many more specific claims and their free references…

      Download a free copy of Chapter 9 and have a read

      [ 99 pages, including list of all 782 full text online references for book — Chapter 9 has 146 references ]:

      Chapter 9 Multiple Sclerosis

      Chapter 12 Autism and Other Birth Defects

      While%20Science%20Sleeps%20-%20Chapter%2012%20(ref).pdf 651.62 KB

    • Alison Hudson says:

      The easiest way to distinguish your own words from words you’re quoting / C&Ping from a source is to drop quotation marks around anything you quote/copy. Makes it easier for readers to know what to attribute to you; also makes moderation easier for those of us on the mod/admin end.

  6. A great darkness of the spirit descends…
    Arguing with the likes of the aspartame hysterics is like damming the Niagara; when it can’t pass the barrier, it just goes on dripping…
    At about 500 tonnes per second…
    The trouble is that ignorant posturing is easier to produce indefinitely than sense or fact, but requires no logic, accuracy, factual content, or context. Far from this making it easy to refute, it makes it harder, because a single throw-away line can require pages of logic, accuracy, factual content and context to explain why it is nonsensical.
    It is of course useless to try to instruct or correct the source, because he is only set to output and unequipped to deal with logic, accuracy, factual content and context, even if he were willing to try. But sometimes it is necessary in good faith to supply some material to arm those of good faith and good sense, who do not know the subject matter.
    For examples:
    “The ADH enzyme is found dissolved in the cell‘s fluid … a free agent that can float around the cell unencumbered, releasing formaldehyde from methanol wherever it happens to be within the cell at the time.” This sounds so different from attached enzymes, but since the substrates and products are small molecules and far more mobile than the enzyme, that is a characteristic irrelevance that Rich seems unable to comprehend.
    “Nothing can then restrain the reactive formaldehyde…” Nothing except the ubiquitous presence of huge varieties of proteins, carbohydrates and amine groups that will stop most formaldehyde molecules in their tracks and incidentally prevent further oxidation to formate. This is why formaldehyde has poor penetration when used as a preservative, “as is widely known”, Rich! Check your facts, and above all, check their relevance!
    Most of the attachment to such molecules is harmless until the intake is enough for overt toxic effects.
    Bandying terms such as “cumulative” is convenient, but commonly dishonest. The cycling and excretion of damaged molecules is routine in the body. It is negligible and the damage does not accumulate unless there is enough material to overwhelm the process. Nor does the methanol, formaldehyde, or formate accumulate; they get excreted or immobilised if they are not inactivated by reaction with large molecules. In fact, formaldehyde in the form of hexamine and related compounds was long used for urinary disinfection when taken orally. Quite effective too, before antibiotics replaced it. So much for accumulation… And how do you expect to live without producing formaldehyde in your body? You form it in your metabolism of endogenous amino acids and it therefore occurs in your blood for as long as you live. If you take the subject seriously sonny, look up in the metabolic process where it is produced. THEN come back and preach at us. Even as you decay your carcase will produce some.
    “Retinal dehydrogenase, in humans only, turns methanol into…” GET REAL Rich!!! If you must make a fool of yourself, don’t pester us with it; stupidity comes cheap!
    As another gem of unbelievable ignorance: “Did you ever hear about methanol being a major factor in cigarette smoke?”
    Big news! BIG, BIG NEWS!!!
    Methanol Rich, is a ubiquitous product of scorching organic matter; so much so that, together with formaldehyde, it is a standard commercial product of destructive distillation of organic matter such as wood.
    And you wish to terrify us with 20-odd mg in fruit juice? Or in soft drinks? Which latter please note, is another lie. The methanol in aspartame is in ester form; you only release as much of it as you hydrolyse. Much of it passes through still attached and harmless.
    If people like you only were as allergic to dishonesty and willful ignorance as to red meat and aspartame it would do your health and our patience a power of good.
    And just to save some of your keystrokes, AFAIK I have no connection whatsoever with anyone who produces or profits from aspartame or similar products, and I do not remember having drunk any diet beverages at any time in my life, so don’t bother casting mercenary or moral aspersions. Mind you, I do enjoy fruit juice and fruit as well as red meat and indulging in sex (not necessarily all at the same time).
    DO have a nice day.

    • Rich Murray says:

      Hello Jon Richfield,

      I copied out your post and spaced all the lines to make easy for me to study it, but used most of my Net time today on the post I just shared here about human fetal brains made live in a lab at Ohio State University, from stem cells, that closely replicates an actual one at 5 weeks growth in the womb, but without the blood vessels — still obviously enough O2 and nutrients are provided to keep it growing, so checking the effects on the only neurons known to have vulnerability to methanol will be spot on easy.

      I notice that you are really visualizing the toxic process, and so are actually more than half-way there to accepting that it has some degree of plausibility…

      We might try to estimate the probable number of molecules of methanol in every cell of the body during the first day after ingestion of 20 mg methanol, and the number of molecules of free floating molecules of ADH1, and how quickly they would encounter and form some number of molecules of formaldehyde hydrate, and relate that to the number of target molecules of various types and sizes … way over my capabilities…

      Uh, actually, I tend to apply reverse logic, starting with the idea that many chronic human autoimmune diseases are triggered by methanol, and therefore a fair percentage of the possible free floating molecules must survive the snowstorm of smaller molecules and so reach vulnerable DNA, RNA, and really large protein molecules.

      Monte describes toxicity of methanol as revealed on all levels from specific biochemical disruptions in lab experiments to human cases, near-fatal and fatal — I really want you to examine his very interesting text, as it seems that he well establishes that the harm is actually from formaldehyde, produced within cells from methanol, not formaldehyde that somehow travels through the blood, as formaldehyde hydrate is far too reactive to travel far in the blood — he cites a case where a medical doctor took a suicidal dose of methanol, then the pain led him to go to go for emergency care — he died, but no formaldehyde was found in his blood, so it must all have reacted with components inside cells to a large enough degree to cause death — now that human tissues, including blood vessels, can be kept alive in labs, these matters can be quickly resolved definitively, once the question is agreed to be worthy of investigation — so let us humbly submit our imaginings to the verdict of simple evidence, and the sooner, the better, because Monte gives plenty of evidence to implicate formaldehyde, made in human cells by ADH1 enzyme — note that a few other competent colleagues are supporting him… so, yes, dismiss Rich Murray, but if you supply some specific critical comments with references, I will put them on my blog unedited, and ask Monte if he wants to answer them…

      and, yes, I’ve had a wonderful day, full of my favorite pleasure, lively collaborative mystical experience sharing…

    • Rich Murray says:

      Hello Jon Richfield,

      You wrote me:

      “And you wish to terrify us with 20-odd mg in fruit juice?
      Or in soft drinks?
      Which latter please note, is another lie.
      The methanol in aspartame is in ester form;
      you only release as much of it as you hydrolyse.
      Much of it passes through still attached and harmless.”

      California OEHHA sets methanol ingestion level 23 mg daily, same as from 1 can aspartame diet soda, 10 cigarettes, 3 tomatoes, or 4 cans green beans: Rich Murray 2013.07.03

      I couldn’t find the names of the specific experts who decided this 2 years ago, setting the daily methanol limit for pregnant women — they refused to include aspartame, as their task was defined in a way that did not examine aspartame as a source of methanol for humans.

      Probably, they did not know that their limit applied to cigarettes, fresh tomatoes and unfresh fruits juices and vegetables, preserved wet at room temperature in sealed cans jars and plastics …

      It is widely agreed by experts that all the methanol is released from ingested aspartame within the human GI tract, and enters the blood stream.

      WC Monte gives evidence that little of this methanol is removed by first pass metabolism within the liver in humans.

      Hangover research by three different teams shows that in humans the methanol in blood half-life is about 3 hours, while that of ethanol (ordinary drinking alcohol) is only 1/3 hour.

      It is a reality that more and more experts are attending respectfully to the Monte methanol paradigm.

      No refutations of it have been published in the peer reviewed literature since fall 2007.

      I hope you explore all this with active interest…


      • Forget it Rich; I have just so much time for garbage.
        If you think that retailing dubious biochemical- and physiological-sounding buzzwords out of context or scale is impressive, I have news for you. It is standard fare among quacks and cranks, even at this level of triviality.
        You are decades behind the times, volumes behind the literature, and leagues short of any material of interest.
        And I am busy.

  7. David Parker says:

    I don’t know this Rich guy, but a glance at the contents of his link reveals a touting of the researcher’s being interviewed by Joseph Mercola as a GOOD thing! I hate to generalize or partake in “guilt by association”, but any such reference is effectively an extremely large red flag–on steroids.

    • mudguts says:

      Rich is just trowelling pretty awful and pretty misrepresented references. Its nothing new on the internet .

      If a reasonable argument to the science of aspartame appears, I think we would all be happy to investigate the claim made by the commenter to that claim.

    • Mudguts says:

      I do note there is a bit of blog rolled mixing and matching of recommendations .. Its pretty normal for googlers to do that in trying to make their favourite conspiracy.

      After the experience in skeptoid proper, you deal with each of these in good faith and in turn. Then one finds find their argument goes back to the start. A sort of hope that people wont remember ..

      Note that key words appear in all their arguments that allows you to find where they are getting their info.

    • Rich Murray says:

      Hello David Parker,

      Yeah, I notice a lot of flakey stuff from Joseph Mercola, too — but he is intelligent and well informed about aspartame and methanol toxicity in humans only via ADH1 enzyme making it into loose formaldehyde hydrate within cells.

      In a few days, his long aspartame posts always get about 200,000 visits, doubling and tripling the traffic to WhileScienceSleeps, which is now usually about 300 page visits daily.

      Today, I googled Mike Adams, fraud, scam and got two links about “The Health Ranger”:

      David Gorski

      Mike Adams and the Reality ten long pages with comments
      Written by C. Thomas Corriher and Sarah C. Corriher
      [ very devoted fundamentalists who believe the Devil, evil spirits, and witches are real. eeeee!
      guys and gals, I don’t even believe Rich Murray is real ! ]

      • Mudguts says:

        Ah.. now this is the stuff I’ve been waiting for.. a bit to ask about in all that gish galloping ranting..

        It appears that someone is finally willing to talk about some chemistry ..

        Can the above make a short post and explain the biochemical methanol – methanal conversion a bit better?

        After all this linking to other peoples blogs is a bit annoying (its rude) and its a very explicable reaction.

        You would wonder how many trillions of times a day the cells in our body do this sort of thing..

        • Rich Murray says:

          Hello Mudguts,

          Methanol, the smallest alcohol, with only 1 carbon, easily moves from the bloodstream to enter every cell of the adult and the fetus — 20 tissues have large amounts of ADH1 enzyme free floating in the cytosol, and also lack a catalase defense system, located in about 200 peroxisomes in each cell, which in all other creatures safely handles the conversion of methanol into formaldehyde into formic acid into CO2 and H20 — in humans only, the methanol molecule quickly meets up with a molecule of ADH1 enzyme, which promptly makes it into formaldehyde, which is promptly released into the cytosol — formaldehyde immediately reacts with water, picking up two -OH acidic radicals, on the sides of the carbon — this in turn binds with any molecules of DNA, RNA, and large proteins that it randomly bumps into — thus, with two -OH radicals, the large molecules are glued together durably — this impairs their functioning — the random harm is cumulative, so about the same harm happens with a short exposure to a higher dose, or a long exposure to a smaller dose — Now, ordinary drinking alcohol, ethanol, has one carbon, and enters the cell faster than methanol — ADH1 preferentially binds to ethanol, so ethanol prevents the ADH1 from binding to methanol, and so thus ethanol protects against a 16 times higher molar dose of methanol in the blood — that is the core of the paradigm — I’m not at all qualified to say anything more, so just read his online book, and look up the online references —

          Note the supportive reviews by a few experts for his book on since December 2011…

          I hope you enjoy the adventure of being among the first to look into these fascinating details.

          regards, Rich

          • Mudguts says:

            Sorry.. try again..

            You see if I see a lot of unrelated garbage… I dont read the chemistry bit.. I dont even check to see if there was any mentioned in what is submitted to me.

            Career habit I have..

  8. Rich Murray says:

    live lab human fetus brain at 5 weeks can show methanol formed by ADH1 enzyme into highly reactive formaldehyde hydrate within Purkinje cells of vermis in cerebellum at 4 weeks, hurt in autism, WC Monte paradigm: Rich Murray 2015.08.18

    [ see this illustrated, detailed article at the end of this post ]

    Within months the WC Monte paradigm, first published in public in fall 2007 with over 200 free full text medical research references, can be decisively disconfirmed or confirmed.

    The simple paradigm applies in humans only to 20 tissues with high levels of ADH1 enzyme, notably the inner walls of blood vessel walls and also the rods and cones of the retina.

    Brain neurons are immune, due to their adequate levels of protective ADH3 enzyme.

    However, Monte gives evidence that supports methanol as the key toxic agent that starts and continues the random spots of damaged blood vessels and adjacent tissues, inflammed with autoimmune system activation, that still are the long standing mysteries of Alzheimer’s and of multiple sclerosis.

    Prof. Woodrow C. Monte, Food Science and Nutrition, Arizona State University, retired 2004, has since fall 2011 given a free online archive of over 782 mostly full text medical research references,

  9. bandit, Albuquerque says:

    My own experience with Aspartame – which I realize is anecdotal: I was drinking a lot of diet coke while on a very intense programming project. I found I had the inability to remember almost everything, including what I had for breakfast. The reason I could do my work was I kept very good notes and made good comments in the code.

    My memory started to return when I gave up the diet coke and switched to dr Pepper, which is a story for another day.

    And – the reason for the early canned foods was the lead used to solder the cans together. One big piece of evidence is scientists were able to dig up bodies from a Canadian expedition from permafrost. The diary accounts from the expedition described actions consistent with lead poisoning confusion and bad decisions. The diaries also gave the location of the graves. The bodies were in great condition. They showed high levels of lead poisoning. They also found trash middens from camping sites where opened cans were buried. They had excessive amounts of lead solder.

    I think I will stay away from diet pepsi.

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