Aspartame lovers can stop hoarding Diet Pepsi now.
In April, PepsiCo announced that it was removing aspartame from Diet Pepsi in response to growing consumer concern about the artificial sweetener's possible adverse health effects, and replacing it with sucralose. On Thursday,the Wall Street Journal reported the drink company's CEO, Indra Nooyi, announced that the recipe change would take effect in late August of this year -- but also that Diet Pepsi containing aspartame will still be available for sale online after that time.
There's no doubt that many, even most, consumers are dubious about aspartame. One analysis of social media in 2012 showed that 91 percent of posts about the sweetener are negative, and sales of diet soda have been plummeting for years. And many low-calorie drinks being introduced to the market today are sweetened with substances, such as sucralose and stevia leaf extract, that are perceived as being healthier than aspartame.
Yet there's also no doubt that there exists a large cohort of consumers who have come to love the clean, almost metallic taste of aspartame-sweetened beverages. There might even be regular Diet Pepsi drinkers who are more loyal to aspartame than to Pepsi, and may be tempted to switch to Diet Coke after the Diet Pepsi changes.
The infamous New Coke Fiasco of 1985 illustrated the very real risks of recipe tweaks -- so it makes sense that Pepsi would want to take steps to appease such customers. Especially because most mainstream health experts, including those at the FDA, have affirmed the safety of aspartame time and time again.
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