Pepsi is getting rid of aspartame, the artificial sweetener and sugar substitute that has been an ingredient in Diet Pepsi for decades. Today the company announced that the change will come later this year. Aspartame will be removed from every Diet Pepsi brand, including the regular product, its caffeine-free alternative, and Diet Pepsi Cherry. "Diet cola drinkers in the US told us they wanted aspartame-free Diet Pepsi and we're delivering," a spokesperson said. Aspartame is being replaced with a blend of artificial sweeteners sucralose and acesulfame potassium, according to CNBC.
And while there's nothing natural about those ingredients either, they don't carry the same health controversies and unknowns that've dogged aspartame (also known as NutraSweet) for years. It's one of the most throughly tested ingredients in the world, but assurances from the FDA (and the agency's international counterparts) that aspartame is safe for human consumption have done little to shine up its reputation.
Can it cause cancer? Does it actually contribute to people gaining weight — the opposite purpose of diet cola? Can you taste it? Pepsi seems tired of these questions, and the company is going so far as to highlight that its diet sodas will no longer include aspartame. Bottles and cans will be labeled "now aspartame free." Pepsi's move is a sudden and significant shift; Coca-Cola still includes aspartame in its Diet Coke soft drink and hasn't yet announced any plan to phase out the artificial sweetener.