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Nutrasweet Homepage

Nutrapoison Part I

Nutrapoison Part II

Nutrapoison Part III

Doubts About Safety

Gulf War Syndrome

Brain Tumors

How Safe is it

Graves Disease

Daily Uptake

Dry Eyes Syndrome

Eyes

Blindness

NutraFear   NutraLoathing

Acesulfame K

Aspartame Information

     "The replacement of all sweeteners with aspartame
     has been estimated to yield an intake of 867 mg of
     aspartame/day, which translates to only 87 mg of
     methanol."

Before we can discuss aspartame toxicity, it is crucial to
set the record straight regarding aspartame intake.

The statement in the article has three problems:

a. The increasing use of aspartame has not lead to a
   decreased use in caloric sweeteners. According to the
   U.S. Department of Agriculture, the per capita
   consumption of aspartame quadrupled between the years
   1983 and 1988 (USDA 1988). Since that time, the use of
   aspartame has continued to increase. Dr. H.J. Roberts
   reported on Wall Street Journal articles which stated
   that "the diet beverage market was increasing at a rate
   of 20-25% annually" and that "consumers began drinking
   up to six times as many diet drinks as those using
   sugared sodas." (WSJ 1988, WSJ 1989) Gregory Gordon
   wrote in a UPI Investigation that "Roy Burry, an analyst
   with Kidder-Peabody, Inc., said the exploding diet
   market now accounts for 24 percent of soft drink sales,
   compared with 10 percent in the late 1970s, and is
   growing at 20 to 25 percent a year (Gordon 1987, page
   484 of US Senate 1987).

   From 1982 to 1988, the per capita consumption of caloric
   sweeteners jumped from 123.2 pounds to 133.5 pounds per
   year. Therefore the increased use of aspartame has not
   decreased the use of caloric sweetener products in the
   United States (USDA 1988).

b. Studies have shown that when their diet is not closely
   monitored, many people use artificial sweeteners in
   addition to sugar products and not instead of sugar
   products (Chen 1991, Stellman 1986). Therefore, an
   increased use of aspartame will not necessarily alter
   the sugar-craving feeding behavior of the majority of
   persons. If they consume a non-sugar, aspartame-
   containing beverage at one point in the day, they will
   simply make up for the lack of sugar at some other point
   in the day. Some studies have shown an increased
   consumption of sugar due to aspartame (Blundell 1986).
   In fact, Stellman showed that outside the confines of
   the highly structured, supervised environment, the
   subjects he surveyed who choose to use artificial
   sweeteners actually gained weight. Roberts (1988) showed
   in his survey of people outside of the laboratory that
   5% of the people reported adverse reactions had extreme
   weight loss when using aspartame and tended towards
   anorexia. He also noted that 6% of the respondants had a
   unexplained weight gain which averaged 19 pounds!

c. Since diet products with aspartame have few calories and
   since many people have been conned into believing that
   they are safe, a significant percentage of people would
   likely "throw caution to the wind," by drinking large
   quantities of diet soft drinks and eating large
   quantities of other products with aspartame. This is
   something that they would not be as likely to do with
   high-calorie, sugar-containing products.

The NutraSweet Company has been trying to convince people
that persons who ingesting aspartame regularly ingest only
1-3 mg/kg (of body weight)/day of aspartame (Butchko 1991,
Abrams 1992). This is based on surveys and diaries of
consumers. What these surveys do not mention is that
aspartame-containing products are often ingested as part of
snacks and that people often forget what snacks they've
eaten. This was aptly described by Dr. Richard Wurtman of
MIT in a meeting with FDA officials on April 21, 1986 (Lisa
1994, page 201):

     "[NutraSweet's estimates of current use] show,
     among other things, that people consume less
     aspartame in the summer than in other months, a
     finding which violates good sense and reason.
     (This probably reflects the fact -- affirmed in
     our laboratories at MIT -- that people have much
     more difficulty accurately remembering snack than
     meal intakes . . . and most of the aspartame in
     the American diet comes via cold beverages and
     other snack foods.)"

Another set of similar surveys shows that persons living in
Canada (7-day survey) have more than 2.5 times the daily
intake of aspartame than persons living in the U.S. (at the
90th percentile level of consumption). This is ridiculous
because aspartame ingestion (the bulk of which comes from
cold diet beverages) in warm climates would almost certainly
be much larger than in cold climates.

In addition, it appears that it is mathematically impossible
for Canada to have an equal per capita aspartame consumption
let alone a much greater per capita consumption. Aspartame
net sales outside the U.S. amounts to only 10% of all net
sales (Monsanto 1994)  Canada's population is 10.8% of the
U.S. population (CIA 1994). Therefore, Canada's per capita
intake of aspartame cannot possibly be even equal to that in
the U.S., even in the extremely unlikely scenerio where all
aspartame sold outside the U.S. is sold only to Canada.
(According to figures provided by the NutraSweet Company,
the percentage of regular aspartame users in the United
States and Canada are approximately the same (Farber 1989,
page 56, Butchko 1991).

Another preposturous claim can be seen in a paper by Butchko
(1991). In this paper aspartame consumption for 6-12 year
old children was shown to decrease significantly from 1984
(the year after aspartame was approved for use in carbonated
beverages) to 1989 despite nearly tripling the sales of
aspartame from the middle of 1984 to 1989. (USDA 1988,
Monsanto 1990). By the time this survey began the percentage
of regular aspartame eaters in this age category was
approximately 25% (Abrams 1991) according to NutraSweet
Company figures. The NutraSweet Company admits that the use
of aspartame had not risen to over 50% of the U.S.
population at that time (Farber 1989, page 56). Therefore,
an increase in the percentage of regular aspartame users
could not have possibly accounted for the bulk of the
increase in sales. Who are they kidding!? It shows that
these surveys cannot be trusted to show anything close to
accurate figures.

Perhaps another reason the average daily intake of aspartame
from these surveys is so low is due to the way that the
amount of aspartame ingested is calculated. For example,
Abrams (1991) points out that what is recorded on these
surveys is not the amount of aspartame ingested, but only
"the number of times an APM [aspartame] containing item of
food was eaten on that day by that person." This value is
then multiplied by the "average number of grams per eating
occasion of that food for a person of that age and sex
group" to give the total number of milligrams of aspartame
ingested. However, the "average number of grams per eating
occasion of that food for a person of that age and sex
group" is drawn from a 1977-1978 USDA National Food
Consumption Survey. Therefore, the calculations for the
total milligrams of aspartame ingested is based on an old
survey which is probably equally inaccurate as far as snack
food ingestion goes and is most likely out of date. For
example, these calculations assume that the average person
would ingest the exact same amount of soft drink or diet
food per item 1977 as they would in 1994. With the
skyrocketing popularity of one- and two-liter bottles of
soft drinks and the marketing push for diet foods, this is a
ridiculous assumption. By making this assumption, NutraSweet
are skewing the per capita intake figures and are using this
"information" to justify studies on very small amounts of
aspartame.

What the NutraSweet tries to show with flawed studies and
surveys is often contradicted by other studies which they
fund or by statements made by their representatives. In
1976, Frey showed that children who are 7 to 12 years old
can have an aspartame intake anywhere from 35 mg/kg to 76
mg/kg per day when aspartame-containing snack food is
notrestricted (Frey 1976) (Note: No aspartame capsules were
administered to the 7-12 year-old children. Only the 13-21
year-old children received capsules.). Three studies on
obese individuals showed that their aspartame intake
averaged 20 mg/kg per day (ranging from 8 to 36 mg/kg per
day) (Porikos 1984). The Frey study and the three studies by
Porikos monitored aspartame intake much more closely than
the surveys often quoted by NutraSweet researchers. Those
surveys relied on the ability of people to remember their
snacks.

In an article from Science Times, Jane E. Brody states the
following (Brody 1985):

     "The drug agency has set an allowable daily intake
     of 50 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body
     weight, and the agency predicted that actual
     average use would run around eight to ten
     milligrams. According to Dr. Gaull of Searle,
     levels of use found in a national survey last
     spring showed that the average was then already
     twice that--19 milligrams--and the maximum level
     consumed by 'aspartame abusers' was 28 milligrams.
     A United States attorney representing the F.D.A.
     said in court last month that average consumption
     is now 30 milligrams and that many consumers are
     above the 50 milligrams maxiumum suggested."

Farber gave an example of what a typical aspartame
consumption may be for a child (Farber 1989, page 146):

     "An 8-year-old of 20 kg, might eat the following:

       Cereal         250.0 mg
       Soda           200.0 mg
       Milkshake      350.0 mg
       Ice Pop        250.0 mg

       Total        1,050.0 mg of aspartame

     "This would equal 52.5 mg/kg of aspartame
     consumption....' [Note that even for a 60 kg
     adult, the above-listed example  would amount to
     over 17 mg/kg per day.]

On a hot Summer day, the child may ingest the aspartame
listed above and several more carbonated beverages. There
may be many children who are ingesting a full 2-liter bottle
of pop during an active Summer day (1100 mgs. of aspartame).
On top of that ingestion, there may be Jello, cereal, gum,
and many other aspartame-containing foods.

It is important to note that all aspartame-containing
products of the same type do not contain the same amount of
aspartame. For example, a one liter bottle of diet cola
averages aproximately 560 mg of aspartame. However, orange
soda contains as much as 930 mg of aspartame per liter
(Federal Register 1984). In addition, the Tsang (1985) study
showed that there may be an addition 10% or more amount of
aspartame in the product than what is claimed by the
manufacturer.

Neuroscience researcher and Professor of Medicine at the
University of California, Dr. William Partridge testified
about the intake of aspartame before the U.S. Senate
(Pardrige 1987):

     "The first question is the dosage problem. We are
     led to believe by the FDA this morning that the
     typical consumer will have 2 to 4 milligrams per
     kilogram of aspartame per day; that the 99th
     percentile intake is 34 milligrams per kilograms
     per day; and that the advisable daily intake or
     ADI is 50 milligrams per kilogram per day.

     "Now, the layperson sitting in the audience is
     really in no position to analyze these esoteric
     numbers. But if we put it in a different context
     and recognize that 50 milligrams per kilogram per
     day is equal to 5 servings of NutraSweet per 50-
     pound body weight, we can see that children, owing
     to their reduced body weight, are at a great risk
     for overconsumption of NutraSweet.

     "All one has to do in t his room is look up at
     that chart and ask yourself if a 50-pound or 60-
     pound 7 year-old is going to consume 5 or 6
     servings of that per day. If they are, then they
     have consumed 50 milligrams per kilogram per day,
     or the advisable daily intake.

     "Now, an 11-year[-old] study in the literature has
     already shown this, that the average 7-to-12-year-
     old, when made freely available to products like
     that, consumes 5 servings per 50-pound body weight
     per day, and up to 77 milligrams per kilogram per
     day."

In the National Soft Drink Association's draft objection to
use of aspartame in carbonated beverages it was stated (NSDA
1983):

     "FDA relied upon an intake value of 34 mg/kg/day
     in assessing the possible risks of aspartame,
     describing that level as the '. . . highest
     obtained from any estimate of potential
     consumption and exceed[ing] the 99th percentile
     consumption (25 mg/kg) for all age groups . . .'
     48 Fed. Reg. at 31377. For a 30 kg child, however,
     it would not be unualual for that level to be
     achieved or, in terms of the effect on plasma PHE
     (phenylalanine) levels, even exceeded. For
     example, if a 30 kg child consumed on a warm day
     after exercise approximately two-thirds of a two-
     liter bottle of soft drink sweetened soley with
     aspartame, that child would be consuming 700 mg of
     aspartame, or approximately 23 mg/kg. This alone
     roughly equals what FDA considered, the 99th
     percentile consumption level. If during the day
     this child consumed other aspartame-sweetened
     products, the exposure level could quickly [reach]
     FDA's so called 'loading dose' of 34 mg/kg. 48
     Fed. Reg. at 31377."

Had the child in the above example consumed two-thirds of a
two-liter bottle of aspartame-sweetened orange soda, the
values could be as high as 1240 mg of aspartame or 41.3
mg/kg/day for a 30 kg child.

Another way to look at intakes is to look at what a child
may ingest in a single sitting. At the popular convenience
store chain, 7-11, the drinks, "Big Gulp" and "Super Big
Gulp" are popular items for both children and adults. A 30kg
child purchasing a Big Gulp (32 ounces) of diet soda would
ingest 510 mg to 846 mg of aspartame depending upon whether
it was diet cola or diet orange. This works out to between
17 mg/kg or 28.2 mg/kg of aspartame in a single sitting! The
same child purchasing a Super Big Gulp of diet soda would
ingest 700 mg to 1162 mg of aspartame. This works out to
23.3 mg/kg or 38.7 mg/kg of aspartame in one sitting! As an
adult who plays basketball outside in the warm whether, I
know many people, including myself who can easily drink
twice the amount of liquids as found in a Super Big Gulp in
one sitting in order to prevent dehydration.

What is generally agreed upon when discussing the intake
amounts of aspartame is the following:

   The majority of aspartame users ingest much less than
   the FDA's Acceptible Daily Intake (ADI). When plotting
   milligrams per day of aspartame ingested against the
   percentage of  U.S. population, a smaller percentage of
   the population will ingest the largest amounts.

However, a regular, smaller dose of a neurotoxin such as
aspartame is not necessarily safe and certainly not health-
building. Dr. Roberts found many serious adverse effects
from ingestion of aspartame at levels many times lower than
the FDA's ADI (Roberts 1990a, page 71-72). The use of
aspartame for a lifetime at even very small levels is
foolish in my opinion.

Looking a studies I have seen in the literature as well as
USDA figures for artificial sweetener usage, I would
estimate that the average person in the U.S. who ingests
aspartame regularly ingests approximately 8 mg/kg per day.
This is based on the following estimates:

-  Approximately 35% of the U.S. population (81 million
   people -- CIA 1994) are regular aspartame "eaters."
   Heybach (1988) showed that in adult women (a population
   likely to have a higher percentage of regular aspartame
   users than the general population), only 25% ingested
   aspartame in the survey. Since the survey was only a
   single day, I will give the NutraSweet Company the
   benefit of the doubt and assume 35% regular usage for
   the general population. The FDA submitted an aspartame
   intake survey to the U.S. Senate which admited that
   approximately 35% of the survey participants were
   regular consumers of aspartame (FDA PMS 1987). I do not
   believe the contrived NutraSweet Company estimates that
   more than 50% of the U.S. population uses aspartame
   regularly.

-  The average weight of regular aspartame users I estimate
   to be 50kg. This includes many thin women, adolescents,
   children, and infants who would tend to bring the
   average way down.

-  The amount of aspartame used in the U.S. in 1995 I
   estimate is 28 million pounds. McNamara (1995) stated
   that 20 million pounds will be sold in the U.S. in 1995.
   The author probably got that figure from the NutraSweet
   Company and does not realize that every "fact" spewed
   out by this company is suspect at best. Figures from the
   USDA (1988) showed that 7 million pounds were consumed
   in 1984 and approximately 17.1 million pounds were
   consumed in 1987 Given that aspartame is now in over
   5,000 junk food products worldwide (Geha 1993, Trefz
   1994) and was only in hundres of products in 1987, and
   given that diet beverage sales have increased
   tremendously in the last 8 years, an estimate of 28
   million pounds is quite reasonable (This estimate is
   probably too low. The actual figure may be as high as 35
   million pounds).

It is possible to determine the average usage of aspartame
in regular eaters using the following formula:

  (lbs * 1,000,000 mg/kg) / (2.2 kg/lbs. * days/year * # of
                    eaters  * kg/person)

= 8.6 mg/kg/day for regular eaters. I realize that this is
an estimate, but given how ridiculous the "results" of
NutraSweet-connected surveys are, an estimate is better than
nothing.

I believe that at least 10 percent of regular aspartame
users ingest at least 20 mg/kg per day. This may amount to
over 8 million people in the U.S. I would estimate that
nearly 1 percent of aspartame users ingest at least 50 mg/kg
per day. This may amount to over 800,000 people. This group
would most likely be mostly made up of children and young,
adolescent girls due to their low body weight and high
intake of junk foods. For many of these people, the warm and
hot weather intake will far exceed their Winter intake, such
that a person ingesting 20 mg/kg per day in the Winter may
ingest 40 mg/kg per day in the hot Summer months. According
to Dr. Woodrow Monte, Director of the Arizona State
University Food Science and Nutrition Laboratory, a
significant number of people in Arizona drink as much as two
or three liters of diet soda every day during the Summer
(Monte 1995).

Even if we accept the FDA's projection that only 1% of the
regular aspartame users will consume more than 34 mg/kg/day
of aspartame, that still may amount to over 800,000 people.
While the national average may be lower than 34 mg/kg/day of
aspartame, there are undoubtedly several hundreds of
thousands of people who are consuming well over 34 mg/kg/day
of aspartame, especially on hot Summer days.

NutraSweet researchers sometimes use the following ploy to
try and convince gullible listeners that people cannot
ingest over 20 mg/kg/day or approach a level of 50 mg/kg/day
(despite their own studies which prove them wrong). They
compare the amount of one single product that would need to
be ingested by an adult male in order to reach these high
levels (e.g., Rowen 1995). For exampe, they might say that
it takes 100 packets of Equal or 19 cans of diet soda for a
70kg man to reach a dose of 50 mg/kg.

First of all, not everyone is a 70kg man. Many people are
50kg women or 20-30kg children where the amount of aspartame
required to reach a dose of 50 kg/mg is much less. Secondly,
many people who put themselves at risk by ingesting
aspartame do so using a wide variety of aspartame-containing
"food" products such as soda, puddings, cereal, hot
chocolate, coffee, tabletop sweeteners, gum toppings,
supplements and pharmaceuticals, fruit drinks, etc. People
abusing themselves with aspartame in this way can easily
ingest hugh doses. Finally, even doses of only a few
mg/kg/day is not safe in the long run.

Some researchers try to argue that they can use much less
than the current FDA Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) in their
experiments as long as they use a test dosage well above the
average intake of aspartame as deterimined by these (flawed)
surveys. Stegink states the following (Stegink 1989):

     "Initial consideration of these projected intakes
     might lead one to question their validity since 12
     oz of aspartame-sweetened beverage ingested by a
     27-kg 8-year-old child would account for 7.4 mg
     aspartame/kg body weight. However, when beverage
     intake data are examined, the projected aspartame
     intake values are consistent with these data. For
     example, Morgan et al reported that 7- to 8-year-
     old children ingest, on average 6.0  4.2 oz soft
     drink daily (mean  SD; value includes both
     regular and diet beverage) (Morgan 1985). Thus, an
     average 27-kg 8-year-old child would ingest 3.7 mg
     aspartame/kg body weight daily if all 6 oz of
     beverage were sweetened with aspartame. A 27-kg
     child ingesting beverage at 2 SD above the mean
     (approximately 97% of expected values) would
     ingest 14.4 oz of beverage. This would provide 8.9
     mg aspartame/kg body weight if all beverage
     consumed was sweetened with aspartame. Therefore,
     young children would have to drink unusually large
     quantities of beverage to ingest much larger
     quantities of aspartame."

What Stegink neglects to mention is the following:

1. The study cited by Stegink (Morgan 1985), does not take
   into account that, as Dr. Wurtman stated, snacks are
   commonly forgotten in daily food surveys so that the
   average ingestion of soft drinks would likely be much
   greater.

2. The study cited by Stegink uses data from a three-day
   survey instead of the more accurate seven-day survey.

3. The study cited by Stegink was published in 1985. This
   study was an evaluation of data from the 1977-78
   Nationalwide Food Consumption Survey. Thus, the data was
   over ten years old when Stegink cited it and is now over
   16 years old! Anyone adult in the U.S. who was not in a
   coma for the last 16 years knows that soft drink
   consumption has increased tremendously since the late
   1970s.

4. Stegink neglects to mention that there are thousands of
   products with aspartame and that 7- to 8-year-old
   children can be ingesting significant amounts from foods
   and beverages other than soft drinks.

5. While the average intake may be relatively low, although
   much higher than reported by Stegink and not necessary
   safe, there are undoubtedly a significant number of 7-
   to 8-year old children who are ingesting large
   quantities of aspartame by their own choice or by the
   choice of their parents to avoid sugar. It is ridiculous
   to use the "average" (even if it was accurately
   determined) to judge test amounts of aspartame.

Conclusion
----------
NutraSweet-written survey summaries show a negligable
increase in daily aspartame consumption since 1983.
Aspartame sales has skyrocketed since 1983. Therefore, the
numbers from these surveys which are flawed as described by
Dr. Richard Wurtman above, do not make any sense and should
be ignored until large, well-designed surveys are conducted
separate from the influence of the NutraSweet Company. Until
that time, estimates of average consumption for regular
eaters at 8 mg/kg/day, 20 mg/kg/day at the 90% level, and
over 50 mg/kg/day at the 99% level seem quite reasonable.

The NutraSweet Company researchers have begun a concerted
effort to convince scientists and laypersons that they are
testing high doses of aspartame. This is based on consumer
surveys. The reality is that a) the surveys are flawed; b)
their own studies show subjects ingesting much higher
intakes of aspartame than they use in tests; and c) they are
often testing using doses significantly below the FDA's
Allowable Daily Intake (ADI). Their efforts to test small
doses is a big con job. Don't buy into it.

What should be used in experiments is double the ADI of real
world aspartame. Any argument for using less should be taken
as an admission that the ADI is not a safe amount of
aspartame.

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