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Alternate Names

Canderel, Tropicana Slim, NutraSweet, Equal, AminoSweet


Created from aspartic acid and phenylalanine and is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. This sweetener is found in thousands of food products including gum, many diet drinks and those labeled "sugar free." It is not heat stable and therefore is not used in foods that require cooking.

Aspartame - Quick Stats

Canderel, Tropicana Slim, NutraSweet, Equal, AminoSweet

Allergy Information

Monosodium Glutamate

Acesulfame Potassium






Additional Information

Approved in 1981, aspartame remains highly controversial. Opposition stems from concerns of conflict of interest in the FDA the approval process, flaws in the submitted studies, and they way the chemicals break down in the body (including the formation of methanol, formaldehyde and formic acid). Many assert that aspartame might cause brain damage along with other health symptoms. The FDA and European Food Safety Authority maintain aspartame's safety. In the 1990's, many companies, especially in Europe, chose to remove aspartame from their private label products. Other countries have considered banning aspartame entirely.

Found In

soft drinks, yogurt, chewing gum, frozen desserts, cereal, pudding, breath mints and is used as a table top sweetener (e.g. Equal)

Possible Health Effects

Purported health effects include everything from brain tumors, lymphoma, and cancer, fibromyalgia, to headaches, dizziness and insomnia. Aspartame contains phenylalanine and must be avoided by people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic condition.

Allergy Information

See Possible Health Effects section

In The News

4/21/11 - Food Navigator reports that new aspartame labeling legislation is being considered: Environment MEPs approve proposal on aspartame pregnancy warning. 10/9/10 - An article on Infowars.com titled, Warning to Glenn Beck: Don't Drink Diet Coke, discusses the potential dangers of consuming food made with aspartame. In particular, the article points to aspartame being linked to blindness and that most aspartame is now made from genetically modified sources. 4/23/07 - Sainsbury's Takes the Chemicals out of Cola.

Online Resources/Related

Print Resources

Copyright May 20, 2010 Be Food Smart. Updated: October 10, 2010, February 22, 2011, April 21, 2011

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