Aspartame Is Coming Back to Diet Pepsi

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By Gillie Houston Posted June 28, 2016

Less than a year after Pepsi launched a new version of its diet beverage with sucralose in the place of the maligned chemical, the company has reversed its path.

Aspartame is out of vogue. Many food companies have abandoned the sweetener due to public demand. Last year, Pepsi launched a new version of its diet beverage sweetened with sucralose, but now the company is changing course.

Though the chemical has been connected to cancer in lab mice, the Food and Drug Administration says over 100 studies have supported aspartame's safety. Despite this, the brand claims abandoning asparatame was previously its number one request from customers. But following a sharp plummet in sales after eliminating the ingredient from Diet Pepsi, the company has now announced it will begin offering "Diet Pepsi Classic Sweetener Blend"—that classic sweetener being, of course, aspartame. The drink, which will be available starting in September, is the brand's attempt to win back some of its core customers who ditched the beverage over its change in flavor.

Sucralose—also known as Splenda—will still be the primary sweetener in the standard cans of Diet Pepsi, recognizable by their silver color. The new (or rather, old) asparatame-containing blend will come in light blue packaging. While the beverage industry has blamed aspartame for a decline in diet soda sales, ditching it turned out to be worse. In the first quarter of this year alone, sales of Diet Pepsi dropped 10 percent according to Beverage Digest, in comparison to a 5.7 percent decline in the sales of Diet Coke, which stuck with aspartame.

In addition to its "Classic" blend, Pepsi will also re-introduce Pepsi MAX as "Pepsi Zero Sugar," which will contain the controversial sweetener. Welcome back to the beverage aisle, aspartame.

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