GENTECH archive 8.96-97


6th Grader, Jennifer Cohen, conducts experiment on NutraSweet


Jennifer Cohen is an eleven-year old student in Mrs. Simmons' sixth grade
Oradell, New Jersey class.  The principal of Oradell Public School is
Scott Ryan.  He may be reached at 201 261-1181 Jennifer conducted an
experiment proving aspartame, the artificial sweetener in diet soda breaks
down into two deadly neurotoxins when stored at room temperature and under

ABSTRACT:  The level of aspartame in a can of Diet Coke was found to be
0.06% by a food testing laboratory.  The remaining cans from one case of
Diet coke were stored under three different heat conditions for 10 weeks.
Seven cans were stored in an incubator (104 degrees Fahrenheit), seven
cans were stored at room temperature (68-70 degrees Fahrenheit).  At the
end of 70 days samples were tested for levels of aspartame, formaldehyde
and DKP (diketopiperazine).  The refrigerated sample contained 0.058
percent aspartame, 0.001 percent DKP and 53.5 parts per billion of
formaldehyde.  The room temperature sample contained 0.051 percent
aspartame, 0.002 percent DKP and 231 parts per billion of formaldehyde.
The incubator sample contained 0.026 percent aspartame, 0.010 percent DKP
and 76.2 parts per billion of formaldehyde.  In addition 10 human subjects
tasted each soda sample plus a new can of Diet Coke and rated each sample
for taste on a 1-4 scale with 1 being the best and 4 being the worst.  The
new can of Diet Coke received an average rating of 2.0.  The sample stored
in the refrigerator received an average rating of 2.6.  The sample stored
at room temperature received an average rating of 2.5.  The sample stored
in the incubator received an average rating of 3.8.  The effects of heat
on Diet coke produced the worst taste and the highest amount of loss of
aspartame as well as the greatest increase in levels of DKP.  The most
pleasing taste was for the new can of Diet Coke.  The room temperature
sample and the refrigerated sample scored almost the same in the taste
test.  All samples revealed a presence of formaldehyde.  However, the
highest level of formaldehyde occurred in the room temperature can.  There
was also formaldehyde present in the refrigerated sample.

BACKGROUND:  Aspartame was discovered in l981 by Searle chemist, Jim
Schlatter.  He was developing this drug for another use and after
accidentally licking his finger found that aspartame was sweet.  Today
aspartame is consumed by more than 100 million people in the United
States.  This chemical (aspartame) has been approved by the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) who said that an individual can safely consume 97
packets of aspartame every day.  Aspartame is in many products including
some that children use such as diet soda, light yogurt, Flintstone
Vitamins, baked goods, puddings, and Winterfresh gum.  It has been known
to cause headaches, nausea, vision problems, seizures and cancer in its

The ingredients in aspartame are aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methyl
alcohol.  Methyl alcohol is a chemical that breaks down in high
temperatures and turns into formaldehyde and DKP (diketopiperazine), two
chemicals known to cause problems in the nervous system.  Aspartame's life
is 262 days at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25 degrees Celsius.  The FDA gets
more complaints about aspartame than any other food or drink.  The
symptoms of aspartame are a lot like the symptoms of multiple sclerosis
and Alzheimer's disease.  Ever since aspartame was approved in l985, there
has been an increase in brain tumors.  There is no direct proof that
aspartame caused the brain tumors, but there is enough reason to suspect
that, and the television show, "60 Minutes" recently did a report linking
the increase in brain cancer to aspartame use.  

The FDA reviewed Searle's studies of this artificial sweetener in which
rats were fed aspartame daily with their meals for one year.  There were
12 brain tumors in the 320 rats that were fed aspartame and no brain
tumors in the 120 rats that were not fed aspartame.

There was also a study done at the University of Wisconsin on rhesus
monkeys.  they were fed aspartame daily.  After  day 200 of a one year
study the monkeys developed epileptic seizures.  After the study ended,
the aspartame was discontinued and the monkeys were arefully watched for
60 days.  The monkeys had no more seizures.

Go to part 2  
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