See ya later, aspartame. PepsiCo announced on Friday that Diet Pepsi, as well as Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi, will no longer contain the controversial artificial sweetener in the U.S. starting in August.
Instead, the beverage giant will substitute in sucralose, better known as Splenda, and acesulfame-potassium. Although both are also artificial sweeteners, they haven’t been haunted by rumors that they cause cancer the way aspartame has for years.
The sweetener swap stems from public pressure to remove aspartame from the beverage, which likely contributed to the 5.2% decline in Diet Pepsi’s sales last year. In fact, Seth Kaufman, senior vice president of Pepsi and the company’s flavors drinks in North America, told Bloomberg that surveys showed aspartame was the top reason consumers gave for drinking less Diet Pepsi.
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“Decades of studies have shown that aspartame is safe, but the reality is that consumer demand in the U.S. has been evolving,” Kaufman said. “The U.S. diet cola consumer has been asking and asking and asking for an aspartame-free great diet cola.”
Even so, the FDA, which approved aspartame for use in carbonated beverages back in 1983, says the artificial sweetener is safe: “Aspartame is one of the most exhaustively studied substances in the human food supply, with more than 100 studies supporting its safety.”
Although Diet Pepsi drinkers who were concerned about aspartame will likely celebrate the swap, it’s worth nothing that artificial sweeteners in general aren’t great for you. Research shows they mess with your metabolism. Diet soda is also linked to weight gain and other health issues.
So you’re actually better off ditching diet soda completely. “My best advice is to refresh yourself with water, seltzer water or flavored waters,” Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a statement.