This morning Natural News published a great article bringing public awareness about an artificial sweetener made by... guess who... Monsanto. This artificial sweetener is called Neotame. Neotame is a modified form of aspartame, which many people recognize as Equal and NutraSweet. Neotame came on the market in 2002 as an inexpensive alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. This cost savings proved to be very attractive to consumer food manufacturers. There is a mistake in the Natural News article, which will most likely be corrected shortly. The article states that Neotame does not have to be labeled, so the additive could be in certified organic food without anyone knowing about it. Certified organic growers and producers cannot, by federal law, add Neotame or any other additive without USDA approval. The Internet rumor concerning Neotame needs to be stopped.
What is wrong with Neotame?
Neotame is the same exact thing as aspartame, except for the addition of one chemical. This chemical is a 3,3-dimethylbutyl group. What this chemical does is make Neotame safe for PKU patients by blocking phenylalanine. Although the FDA approved Neotame in 2002, and the artificial sweetener was declared safe by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, opponents are concerned about the scientific studies performed to get the sweetener approved for the consumer market.
Opponents of Neotame argue that the scientific studies performed with Neotame were all corporately sponsored. This means that corporations who had a vested interest in seeing Neotame approved were funding the studies. The two key human trials reported in "Neotame: a Scientific Overview" on the Neotame website showed no adverse reactions in adults for thirteen weeks or diabetics for two weeks. However, natural health advocates who are keenly aware of the links from aspartame to neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's would argue that Neotame is simply a modified aspartame product that has no long-term safety studies attached to it.
The NutraSweet Company "Material Data Sheet," published in 2007 provides information about the safety and handling of Neotame.
Is Neotame added to certified organic foods and products without consumer knowledge?
In a word, no. According to the Organic Consumers Association, a grassroots organic food watchdog effort, and The Cornucopia Institute, a lobbying group for family farms, the rumor that Neotame is being added to certified organic foods and products is false. The truth is that for any organic farmer or producer to be approved as being USDA Certified Organic, no synthetic additives can be added at all. The only exception to this federal regulation, according to Emily Brown Rosen, Standards Specialist for the USDA's organic division, is for a synthetic additive which is listed on the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances. Neotame is not on that list, so it cannot be legally added to any organic food product.
No organic grower or producer in sound mind and body would add anything synthetic to a certified organic product anyway, imho. So Neotame is not potentially lurking in organic food without consumer knowledge.