KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Pepsico is trying to put some fizz in Diet Pepsi sales by taking out the artificial sweetener aspartame. But dietitians say what you'll get instead in the drink isn't much different.
The new Diet Pepsi is popping up on store shelves in the metro and around the country this week. The label says "Now Aspartame Free." Analysts say Pepsico is responding to diet sales flattening, and to aspartame being a sour word to some since a few studies showed the artificial sweetener caused cancer in lab rats. On social media, it's been linked to conditions ranging from diabetes to epilepsy. But the Food and Drug Administration says aspartame is safe, and a registered dietitian at St. Joseph Medical Center agrees.
"There's no evidence showing there's any health concern with aspartame in humans. There' s no evidence to support that at all," said Erin Plumberg.
So what will sweeten Diet Pepsi now? Two other artificial sweeteners. They are sucralose, which is Splenda, and acesulfame potassium, which is one ingredient in Equal.
One Diet Pepsi drinker, Bill Allen, wondered, "Is that for the good?"
Is there any difference between the new sweeteners in Diet Pepsi and aspartame?
"Nutritionally and healthwise, no, not really. Taste might be a big difference," said Plumberg.
The dietitian adds that generally, diet soft drinks are preferable to the regular stuff which contains high fructose corn syrup.
"If your focus is weight loss or diabetes, lowering your sugar intake, then I think absolutely these are a great alternative," said Plumberg.
But she says it's far better to choose water or any drink that has vitamins and minerals.
Meanwhile, Coke has no plans to take aspartame out of Diet Coke.