PepsiCo says it’s dropping aspartame from Diet Pepsi in response to customer feedback and replacing it with sucralose, another artificial sweetener commonly known as Splenda.
The decision to swap sweeteners comes as Americans keep turning away from popular diet sodas. Competitor Coca-Cola said this week that sales volume for Diet Coke, which also uses aspartame, fell 5 percent in North America in the first three months of the year.
Executives at Coke and Pepsi blame the declines on perceptions that aspartame isn’t safe. That’s even though the Food and Drug Administration says aspartame, best known by the brand names Equal and NutraSweet, is “one of the most exhaustively studied substances in the human food supply, with more than 100 studies supporting its safety.”
John Sicher, publisher of industry tracker Beverage Digest, noted that attitudes about aspartame can be very negative. Using an online tool called Topsy that measures Twitter sentiment on a scale of 0 to 100, he noted “aspartame” got a 22 ranking, below a 38 ranking for “Congress.”
By comparison, “love” had a ranking of 96 and “Christmas” had a ranking of 88.