Critics of aspartame (NutraSweet) who may be getting tired of trying (unsuccessfully) for 35 years to get the sweetener off the market may have something to look forward to. Yesterday the FDA approved advantame the sixth approved sugar substitute on the market today.
Advantame is an analog (a chemical cousin) of perpetually demonized (but perfectly safe*) aspartame, which was designed to have several advantages over its older chemical cousin.
(*Aspartame cannot be used by people with a genetic defect called phenylketonuria the inability to process phenylalanine. About one in 10,000 people are afflicted, and they must also avoid phenylalanine-rich foods, such as cheese, milk, most meats and nuts.)
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom explains: One of the drawbacks of aspartame is that it is not stable enough to be used in cooking. Advantame is chemically more stable, and can be used. Also, advantame does not release phenylalanine, so it is safe for phenylketonurics. Finally, aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, and advantame is 100 times sweeter than aspartame, so the amount needed for sweetening is far less.
He continues, This should (but probably won t) allay the concerns of those who fear the miniscule amount of methanol that is formed during the breakdown of aspartame. It will now be 100-times more miniscule.
If this isn t enough to convince you, the intensive toxicology studies of the new sweetener should. The safety of advantame was established in 37 studies in animals and humans at a variety of doses, both acutely and chronically. It was virtually impossible to find a toxic dose in animals, and there were no signs of carcinogenicity, reproductive or developmental toxicity, or any other systemic toxicity in animals and humans.
Dr. Bloom comments, About the only way this stuff could harm you is if you were run over by a truck delivering it. But I m sure the anti-(whatever) groups will find something to scare people about. After all, we all need to make a living.