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In April, Pepsi announced it would remove aspartame from its formula for Diet Pepsi, which led many to wonder if the move was due to health risks associated with the artificial sweetener. But Pepsi also said Diet Pepsi with aspartame would remain available online, and Diet Coke will continue using aspartame.
So, are aspartame and other natural sweeteners dangerous to consumers? Or is Pepsi just bowing to Internet rumors and public (mis)perception?
Thus far, there have been no proven links between aspartame and many of the negative health risks with which it is associated. As David Hattan, Acting Director of the Division of Health Effects Evaluation in the United States Food & Drug Administration (USFDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, points out, aspartame has been studied continuously since 1978:
"The legitimate attempts that have been made to confirm and replicate allegations of adverse reactions from aspartame ingestion have not been successful and the USFDA continues to consider this to a be among the most thoroughly tested of food additives and that this information continues to confirm the safety of aspartame."
The lawsuits filed involving aspartame have been confined to price fixing cases, so as of now, there don't seem to be increased health risks associated with aspartame specifically (although drinking too much diet soda may not be good for you, generally speaking).
If aspartame were dangerous, or if someone felt they were harmed by aspartame ingestion, the likeliest recourse would be a product liability claim. Product liability lawsuits are based on the legal premise that companies have a duty to protect consumers from potential health and safety hazards. Since manufacturers generally have more insight and knowledge about their products, courts have found it falls to them to assume financial responsibility for any injuries or damage caused by their products.
There are several legal theories used to prove fault in a product liability case, and the law surrounding products liability can be complicated. If you think you've been injured by a defective or dangerous product, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
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