I 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.