This is big news for any of you low-calorie soda diehards out there. Diet Pepsi is getting a formula change, phasing out what's probably the soda's most well-known and controversial ingredient. In short, Diet Pepsi will soon be ditching aspartame, meaning that you'll be getting used to a brand new sweetener before too long. It's not going to be an immediate change, to be clear — they'll reportedly be making the switch sometime later this year, with USA Today reporting August. Which means you'll have time to prepare for the adjustment, at the very least.
Aspartame has a long history of negative connotations, probably first and foremost the long-running allegation that it causes cancer. Actual scientific studies on aspartame don't back that up, but questions of provable research often don't factor heavily in matters of public perception.
Seth Kaufman, senior vice president of Pepsi and Flavors Portfolio, PepsiCo North America Beverages, said in a statement: "Diet cola drinkers in the U.S. told us they wanted aspartame-free Diet Pepsi and we're delivering."
The new can design released by Pepsi suggests they want people to know about this. Cans of all types of Diet Pepsi will bare the phrase "now aspartame free," perhaps meant to capitalize on the distinction.
So, what about this new sweetener? After all, if you're replacing aspartame on the basis of its feared (empirically unproven) side effects, it sure is important that what you're swapping in is healthier, or at the very least a wash. According to the AP, Diet Pepsi brands will be made with a sucralose-based sweetener instead, most commonly known as Splenda.
Splenda is considered safe by the FDA, which cites a total of 110 studies that were examined in its approval for U.S. sale in 1998. It has, however, been the subject of many of the same controversies, rumors, and concerns that aspartame has, perhaps as much a consequence of instinctual distrust of "artificial" anything.
It'll be interesting to see whether this spurs a broader rejection of aspartame in the soda industry.