Formaldehyde in Aspartame/Nutrasweet - will the diet pop you are drinking 'embalm' you?

This experiment was conducted in 1997. It has been repeated many times and yet, ignored by Monsanto and the FDAThe study proves that there are significant amounts of the chemical, formaldehyde in Diet Coke - more if the pop has been stored at room temperatures or higher (and it's often stored in hot warehouses in the South and Southwest).  A 2000 JAMA study established that intaking even trace amounts of formaldehyde, can cause damage to several areas of the body, yet this is Monsanto's excuse - "yes we know diet pop has formaldehyde in it but it's in such small amounts as to not be dangerous". Aspartame/Nutrasweet is in some 6000 foods and OTC medications.  Formaldehyde is on the FDA list of cancer causing chemicals.  On some foods, nutrasweet is not listed however, all foods having nutrasweet in them must carry a warning about "phenoketinuria".  If you see this warning, you might want to say "no" to the food or medication.



(In 1997), Jennifer Cohen was an eleven-year old student in Mrs. Simmons' sixth grade Oradell, New Jersey class. The principal of Oradell Public School is Scott Ryan. He may be reached at 201 261-1181. Jennifer conducted an experiment proving aspartame, the artificial sweetener in diet soda, breaks down into two deadly neurotoxins when stored at room temperature and under refrigeration.


ABSTRACT: The level of aspartame in a can of Diet Coke was found to be 0.06% by a food testing laboratory. The remaining cans from one case of Diet coke were stored under three different heat conditions for 10 weeks. Seven cans were stored in an incubator (104 degrees Fahrenheit), seven cans were stored at room temperature (68-70 degrees Fahrenheit). At the end of 70 days samples were tested for levels of aspartame, formaldehyde and DKP (diketopiperazine). The refrigerated sample contained 0.058 percent aspartame, 0.001 percent DKP and 53.5 parts per billion of formaldehyde. The room temperature sample contained 0.051 percent aspartame, 0.002 percent DKP and 231 parts per billion of formaldehyde. The incubator sample contained 0.026 percent aspartame, 0.010 percent DKP and 76.2 parts per billion of formaldehyde. In addition 10 human subjects tasted each soda sample plus a new can of Diet Coke and rated each sample for taste on a 1-4 scale with 1 being the best and 4 being the worst. The new can of Diet Coke received an average rating of 2.0. The sample stored in the refrigerator received an average rating of 2.6. The sample stored at room temperature received an average rating of 2.5. The sample stored in the incubator received an average rating of 3.8. The effects of heat on Diet coke produced the worst taste and the highest amount of loss of aspartame as well as the greatest increase in levels of DKP. The most pleasing taste was for the new can of Diet Coke. The room temperature sample and the refrigerated sample scored almost the same in the taste test. All samples revealed a presence of formaldehyde. However, the highest level of formaldehyde occurred in the room temperature can. There was also formaldehyde present in the refrigerated sample.

BACKGROUND: Aspartame was discovered in l965 by Searle chemist, Jim Schlatter. He was developing this drug for another use and after accidentally licking his finger found that aspartame was sweet. Today aspartame is consumed by more than 100 million people in the United States. This chemical (aspartame) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who said that an individual can safely consume 97 packets of aspartame every day. Aspartame is in many products including some that children use such as diet soda, light yogurt, Flintstone Vitamins, baked goods, puddings, and Winterfresh gum. It has been known to cause headaches, nausea, vision problems, seizures and cancer in its users.

The ingredients in aspartame are aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methyl alcohol. Methyl alcohol is a chemical that breaks down in high temperatures and turns into formaldehyde and DKP (diketopiperazine), two chemicals known to cause problems in the nervous system. Aspartame's life is 262 days at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25 degrees Celsius. The FDA gets more complaints about aspartame than any other food or drink. The symptoms of aspartame are a lot like the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Ever since aspartame was approved in l985, there has been an increase in brain tumors. There is no direct proof that aspartame caused the brain tumors, but there is enough reason to suspect that, and the television show, "60 Minutes" recently did a report linking the increase in brain cancer to aspartame use.

The FDA reviewed Searle's studies of this artificial sweetener in which rats were fed aspartame daily with their meals for one year. There were 12 brain tumors in the 320 rats that were fed aspartame and no brain tumors in the 120 rats that were not fed aspartame.

There was also a study done at the University of Wisconsin on rhesus monkeys. they were fed aspartame daily. After day 200 of a one year study the monkeys developed epileptic seizures. After the study ended, the aspartame was discontinued and the monkeys were fully watched for 60 days. The monkeys had no more seizures.

METHOD: I did my own experiment on aspartame. On January 21, l997, I bought a new case of Diet Coke from the supermarket. I put 7 cans in the refrigerator, 7 cans in my room at room temperature (about 69 degrees) and I put 7 cans in a BOEKEL incubator (80 Watts, 120 AC volts, 0.75 Amps, catalog # 131500) and set the temperature at 40 degrees Celsius which is 104 degrees Fahrenheit. I left them in there for 10 weeks (70 days). I had a thermometer next to each group of cans and I checked the temperatures daily. I took the remaining three cans and brought them to Winston Laboratories in Ridgefield, New jersey to test for a beginning level of aspartame. When I got the test results back, they revealed that there was normally 0.06 per cent of aspartame in the can of diet soda.

I chose that temperature because in l985 the National Soft Drink Association reported a similar experiment in which diet soda stored at that temperature turned into formaldehyde. In that experiment they explained that 104 degrees Fahrenheit was equal to a daytime temperature in Phoenix, Arizona over the summer. The National Soft Drink Association recommended that aspartame not be approved for use by people in soda. They published this experiment and their recommendation in the Congressional Record.

On April 1, I took the cans of aspartame out of the refrigerator, out of my room and out of the incubator. That day I brought the samples to Winston Laboratory for analysis. I was going to do a taste in my sister's fourth grade class, but the school nurse said that I couldn't because of all the bad things people say about aspartame, so instead I tested the samples on a group of adults. I performed a double blind experiment. My mother helped to label each sample with a number. I conducted the experiment but I did not know which sample each person was drinking. I put all of the cans in a cooler and covered them with ice sos that they would be served at the same temperature. I gave each person a small cup of the soda from the refrigerator, from the incubator, from my room, and from a new can of soda fresh from the supermarket. I asked them to rate the taste on a scale of one to four, four being the worst and one being the best. The actual results are to be found in table#1.

Table 1

ROOM      COLD	   WARM	      NEW
	       TEMP.    STORAGE   STORAGE     CAN
	       #517      #502      #540       #563

SUBJECT #1 	4	  4	    4		3
SUBJECT #2	3	  2	    4		1
SUBJECT #3	2	  3	    3		2
SUBJECT #4	1	  2	    4	        2
SUBJECT #5	2	  2	    4		1
SUBJECT #6	2	  3	    4		1
SUBJECT #7	2	  3	    3		4
SUBJECT #8	3	  2	    4		3
SUBJECT #9	3	  2	    4		1
SUBJECT #10	3	  3	    4		2

AVERAGE	       2.5       2.6       3.8         2.0
Table #2 contains the results of the testing conducted on the samples analyzed by Winston Laboratories. In the sample that was in the refrigerator all that was left of the 0.06 per cent of the aspartame was 0.058 percent. That extra aspartame had turned into 0.001 percent DKP and 53.5 parts per billion of formaldehyde In the sample from my room, all that was left of the 0.06 percent aspartame was 0.051 per cent. The extra aspartame had turned into 0.002 percent DKP and 231 parts per billion of formaldehyde. In the sample that was in the incubator all that was left of the 0.06 percent aspartame was 0.026 percent. The extra aspartame had turned into 0.010 percent DkP and 76.2 parts per billion in the formaldehyde.
Table 2

                  	  %	        %        Parts per billion

	BASELINE CAN	0.060%		*		*

	SAMPLE # 502	0.058%		0.001%		53.5

	SAMPLE # 517	0.051%		0.002%	       231.0
	(room temperature)

	SAMPLE #540	0.026%		0.010%		76.2

	SAMPLE # 563	  *		   *		 *
	(new can)

* Sample #563 (new can of Diet Coke was not tested by the lab.  It was
used for the taste test only.  The baseline can was not tested for
formaldehyde or DKP because it was assumed that FDA would ban any new
product containing poison.  The total cost of testing was $1250.  This
may not be a lot of money to a drug company but it is to me.  As it is,
I will be baby-sitting for the summer of 1997 to pay for this study. -JC

DISCUSSION: There was an obvious preference for the newly purchased sample of Diet Coke. The scores for the sample in the refrigerator and room temperature were similar but were not as high as the new soda. The score for the incubator sample were very low. Nearly everybody hated the taste.

There are taste differences. Ten people preferred the new soda to the other three samples. With 1 being the best and 4 being the worst, their average score for the new soda was 2.0.

The aspartame contained in diet soda stored over time can break down into formaldehyde and DKP, two very dangerous poisons. Taste tests revealed a noticeable difference among tasters. The higher the heat of storage, the worse the taste.

Diet soda stored for ten weeks loses flavor. Aspartame in that soda breaks down into two products, formaldehyde and DKP. The warmer the temperature, the greater the loss of aspartame and the greater the increase in DKP.

Temperature creates two effects. First, the higher the temperature of storage, the higher the level of DKP in the soda. Second, room temperature seems to create the highest levels of formaldehyde in soda. At very high temperatures, the formaldehyde breaks down. However, even stored in a refrigerator at cold temperature, the aspartame breaks down into formaldehyde. After diet soda containing aspartame is purchased it should not be stored in the heat or under any condition for a long period of time. Further research should be performed with more samples at different temperatures for different time periods so that safety levels can be determined. Concerning aspartame, the FDA says, "we believe that based on all the information that we received to date that this is a safe product." I say, "Decide for yourself."

Jennifer Cohen


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