Pepsi Dumps Aspartame But Question Looms: Can Soda Be Called “Diet”?

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Friday, April 24, 2015
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

 Pepsi Dumps Aspartame But Question Looms: Can Soda Be Called “Diet”?

Today, PepsiCo announced that they are switching artificial sweeteners in Diet Pepsi from aspartame to sucralose, but this fails to solve a key problem: PepsiCo will keep promoting Diet Pepsi as a “diet” product, even though studies suggest that artificial sweeteners – including sucralose — do not bring weight loss, and may actually cause weight gain.

“The jump from aspartame to sucralose is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right to Know, a consumer group. “The bigger problem is that PepsiCo is selling a product as ‘diet’ that may well cause weight gain. They didn’t solve that problem.”

On April 9, U.S. Right to Know asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. from using the term “diet” in advertising, branding and labeling of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, because it appears to be deceptive, false and misleading.

Numerous scientific studies and literature reviews suggest that artificial sweeteners do not assist in weight loss and may cause weight gain. Federal law prohibits false advertising, branding and labeling of food products, and FDA regulations permit the use of the term “diet” for soft drink brands or labels only when it is not false or misleading.

“We have asked the FTC and FDA to shut down what appears to be a consumer fraud,” Ruskin said. “We’re hopeful they will stand with consumers and do the right thing.”

Diet Pepsi will retain the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium.

Examples of scientific studies suggesting links between artificial sweeteners and weight gain include:

  • A 2014 study published in Nature found that “consumption of commonly used NAS [non-caloric artificial sweetener] formulations drives the development of glucose intolerance through induction of compositional and functional alterations to the intestinal microbiota….our results link NAS consumption, dysbiosis and metabolic abnormalities….Our findings suggest that NAS may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”

Texts of the U.S. Right to Know requests to FTC and FDA are available at:
FTC: http://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/FTC-artificial-sweetener-letter.pdf
FDA: http://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/FDA-artificial-sweetener-petition.pdf

U.S. Right to Know is a new nonprofit food organization that investigates and reports on what food companies don’t want us to know about our food. For more information, please see our website at usrtk.org.

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