Diet Pepsi: aspartame is out and sucralose in – as myths persist?

The news that Diet Pepsi is removing aspartame (Equal) and bringing in sucralose (Splenda) is huge because aspartame is supposedly one of the most studied food ingredients and certified safe by the FDA and European Food Safety authorities. So why this major shift?

Pepsi has important business reasons for this move as sugary soda sales have been declining generally  in the US as people have become more diet conscious. Surprisingly diet coke has declined last year by 5.2% while Pepsi is down by 6.6% as people believe in certain myths about diet drinks that include:

  • Diet ingredients like aspartame cause cancer
  • It confuses your metabolism and your body does’nt know what to do with the artificial sugar
  • Might aggravate weight gain and diabetes
  • It may kill gut bacteria and cause IBS

In fact aspartame.org has a list of myths and arguments debunking those myths.

However, it is quite amazing that Coke/Pepsi that quite literally inform basic marketing teaching in classrooms worldwide, could not surmount the increasing perception that artificial sweeteners are unsafe. Muhtar Kent, the Coke CEO, repeatedly clarifies that he’s not defending aspartame and yet sounds defensive.

You have to wonder about why the leaders of consumer marketing are on the defensive on the aspartame issue?

It turns out that every one of the myths about aspartame and sweeteners generally¬† have been mentioned by some doctor to a patient in a private consultation. Ask around your friends and you’ll find at least one myth is reportedly mentioned by your friend’s doctor (or the friend’s friend’s doctor….) in a private¬† individual consultation session.

Since neither Coke nor Pepsi or the artificial sugar industry can hire sales reps to individually try and convince every doctor in the world , this is quite the marketing nightmare. Making things worse for the marketers are scientists who have been investigating some of these myths as they are interesting scientific questions.

For example, if you went to Google Scholar and typed “aspartame and cancer” you will find over ten pages of legitimate refereed scientific publications. At least the first few will start spooking you.

But since this blog is an ardent Cola supporter, we argue that probably anything in moderation can’t hurt you. A nice thought for the weekend and warmer weather with some chilled diet soda. About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.

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