Neotame, New Neurotoxic Sweetener: FDA Says No Label Needed, Not Even in Organics
A Monsanto-created chemical, Neotame is likely more toxic than Aspartame. The FDA has quietly decided that we don't have the right to know if it's adulterating our food, not even if the food is labeled USDA Organic.
by Heidi Stevenson
2 January 2011
Aspartame can step aside. There's a new sweetener in town and it isn't saddled with the inconvenience of having to be listed on labels, so it can be sneaked into any prepared food, even USDA so-called Organic. So sayeth the FDA. Neotame is a Monsanto-created chemical similar to Aspartame, including its neurotoxic properties.
Monsanto developed Neotame as their Aspartame patent was expiring, and had no trouble in gaining FDA approval in 2002. They added 3-dimethylbutyl, a chemical listed as hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to Aspartame, making it both sweeter and more toxic.
Both Aspartame and Neotame contain substances that are metabolized into formaldehyde, a highly toxic poison, and an excitotoxic amino acid that agitates, thereby damaging, nerves.
At the time Neotame was originally approved by the FDA, Feingold.org, which battles the addition of many dodgy food additives, stated:
We did a search of MedLine to find studies of adverse effects or side effects of Neotame. Only four studies appeared, two of which were not studies, and the other two of which were actually a single study done by NutraSweet company researchers.
Feingold aptly described one of the nonstudies as effectively saying, "If we don't look, we won't know anything bad." The other, by the World Health Organization, is not a look at potential toxicity, but rather is about setting acceptable daily intakes of Neotame, along with other artificial sweeteners. Note: One must wonder how the FDA justifies non-listing of an ingredient for which there's an acceptable daily intake.
Mary Nash Stoddard, founder of the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network, compared the historic arc of tobacco company research with that of Aspartame. It applies equally well to Neotame:
There is a parallel issue with which to compare the Aspartame issue. That of cigarettes and the deadly effects of smoking. The massive Tobacco Industry is able to produce large volumes of scientific studies showing smoking does not cause: lung cancer, heart disease, strokes or death. Today, mainstream science accepts the fact that smoking can be deadly and addictive. So it is with Aspartame, whose approval was based, not on scientific fact, but as an issue of public policy.
From the beginning, Neotane labeling has been limited. It's in the background noise of products produced by Agribusiness.
Up to this time, Neotame hasn't been sold to the public, but that hasn't been necessary. It's been used widely in prepared foods. So, the less awareness the public has, the less likely it is that people will try to avoid it. For the most part, the technique has worked. Now, very quietly, the FDA has decided that the public shouldn't be informed when Neotame is included in any product. Even Organic products, which are supposed to be unadultered with chemicals, are not required to state when Neotame is inside.
India will soon serve as guinea pigs for Neotame. It will soon be launched there as a tabletop sweetener, like Equal and Splendor, by NutraSweet, which owns and sells the product.
Neotame is now being marketed as Sweetos for use in cattle feed. Molasses has been utlized to get cows to eat foods made unpalatable by chemical additives. Neotame is both less costly than molasses and subject to fewer regulations. How do you like that? A natural food is more stringently regulated than a known-poisonous chemical that's put into food.
The reach of Neotame is likely to be extensive. They're planning to replace other artificial sweeteners with it. A major seller of artificial sweeteners, which goes by the misleading name of Ensigns Health Care Pvt Ltd, intends to use it in place of sucralose.
In the EU, Neotame has been approved by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). As is so common in the EU, the product is hidden behind an E-number. So, labels don't have to say that products contain Neotame. They only need to list "E 961". Naturally, with hundreds of E-numbers, how many people can be aware of which ones are truly dangerous?
It looks like the FDA's loosening of labeling rules for Neotame is part of a large-scale effort to make it a near-ubiquitous artificial sweetener, to be found on the tabletop, in all prepared foods—even organics—and even in the meats consumed.
The solution is fairly simple, but not necessarily easy. If you want to avoid foods adulterated with Neotame, among other dangerous additives and overprocessing, then you need to grow your own foods and prepare them yourselves, or purchase only from suppliers whose processing and sourcing is known to you, which generally means locally-produced.