PepsiCo is discontinuing its use of aspartame in its Diet Pepsi products in the United States. The company announced the news today, revealing that the aspartame-free versions of Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi, and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi are slated to hit shelves in August. While the controversial artificial sweetener is being removed, Pepsi will continue to sweeten the drinks with sucralose and acesulfame potassium, both artificial ingredients.
“Diet cola drinkers in the U.S. told us they wanted aspartame-free Diet Pepsi and we’re delivering,” said Seth Kaufman, Senior Vice President Pepsi and Flavors Portfolio, PepsiCo North America Beverages. “We recognize that consumer demand is evolving and we’re confident that cola-lovers will enjoy the crisp, refreshing taste of this new product.”
The shift in formulation with also come with a call-out of “Now Aspartame Free” on packages of Diet Pepsi products.
Americans have become increasingly wary of aspartame in recent years, despite the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) continued assertion that the ingredient is safe. In November, the FDA denied two citizen-petitions aimed at banning the use of aspartame, stating the petitions failed to supply data that demonstrated the consumption of the ingredient posed a health threat to consumers.
Even so, sales of diet colas continues to decline at a significantly faster rate than its fully sweetened counterparts, as consumers continue to shun aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. The shift was a key reason behind Pepsi’s leap over Diet Coke to become the nation’s No. 2 soda brand.