I received the following email from one of our newsletter readers. Please look at it and give it some thought. Following the letter I have posted my response – and a little more.

My son opened a can of Diet

[soda] and it had a strong odor (like flowery perfume) – he of course did not drink it. When I called the company about this, they apologized and said that it was because the packaging had been ‘compromised.’
Do you know what chemical in Diet [soda] would cause such an odor?

My Response:

  • That odor was probably methanol – generated in the can when it was exposed to high tempeatures.
All aspartame should be banned from the world immediately. It is a very toxic substance – especially when heated. When the [soda] folks said the can might have been compromised they probably meant it had been exposed to high temperatures. When that happens, the aspartame breaks down into its component parts
  1. aspartic acid  (40%)   CAS # 56-84-8 C4H7NO4 (L-Aspartic acid)
  2. phenylalanine  (50%)  CAS # 63-91-2 C9H11NO2 (L-Phenylalanine)
  3. methanol       (10%)   CAS # 67-56-1 CH4O (Wood alcohol)

Methanol, or “wood alcohol”, for instance, can cause blindness or death. It is oxidized to the poisonous formaldehyde by enzymes in the liver. It doesn’t take much to make a person ill. Wood alcohol has a fruity/flowery odor.
There is also the possibility that various chemicals can be produced in a heated mixture like a soft drink with aspartame – aldehydes for example (formaldehyde) often have a fruity or flowery odor.
You have no way of knowing how any product is stored before you receive it. So, if you must use aspartame, always be prepared for some serious toxic effects. I repeat what I said at the beginning of this note, “I think that all aspartame should be banned from the world immediately.”  You are choosing wisely to remove it from your diet.

The fur really starts flying if you even hint at the possibility that aspartame is in any way dangerous to humans. There are two camps – each 180 degrees opposite the other. There is no room for compromise between the groups. One group – the manufacturers, bottlers, and government officials – are on the side that knows that aspartame is safe. The other group – everyone else with a thought who does not belong to the first group – knows that there is something dangerous about ingesting substances that might break down into methanol (and other “nasties” mentioned above).

There is plenty of documentation written from both sides. The first group has the advantage because the government supports the idea that aspartame is safe. When big brother is on your side very few can ever mess with you. Therefore, the standard line is that aspartame has been “proven” safe. If you are at all inclined to move in the second group, be prepared to take some heat – or keep quiet. After all, your position is the contrary one. If you were right, the government would have to be wrong – and that just isn’t possible.

If, however, you think there might be something to the whole safety issue, do yourself a favor and avoid aspartame. You don’t have to engage in a fight with the big boys – just don’t use the junk (I bet you can tell which group I’m in!).

Why have I concluded that aspartame is toxic? I have over 30 years experience as a scientist (good solid scientific background in pharmacy school). That alone qualifies me to be in the club and I should know by now that the scientific method is the best tool we have. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. I have witnessed enough scientifically safe products pulled from the market after people died (recall Baycol). I also have personal experience with aspartame.

Should I wage war against the aspartame people? No, they’ll win. However, I can refuse to use any products that contain aspartame. In addition, I can tell as many people as I can about my non-scientific experience. There! I’ve told you. What are you going to do about it?