Neotame: The new toxicity
Seriously, like we need ANOTHER chemical sweetener to watch for. This is a little exhausting isn't it?
I know most of you have heard me explain the toxic affects of Splenda(sucaralose) and Nutrasweet(aspartame) sweeteners. Here is a link to my article on these.
For years I've been asking clients, loved ones and anyone who will listen ;-) (people love standing next to me in the grocery store!) to stop using nutrasweet/aspartame and splenda/sucralose and there is plenty of information on my website and all over the web as to why.
Yet I wonder how many of you have heard of the latest sweetener claimed to be much sweeter (see below) than nutrasweet? No, not xylitol, it's called neotame and believe it or not, it's actually MADE from nutrasweet.
You have to laugh when a chemical births a new chemical.
Laugh, cry, shake your head...really?
What IS it?
Neotame is a derivative of nutrasweet and according to the testing, it is 7-13 THOUSAND times sweeter than sugar (and 30-60x sweeter than aspartame - who knew that was even possible). Who really needs something THAT sweet? Sugar, beautiful sugar, is sweet enough. In my opinion, our poor brains were not made to take in something like this, there is no way to process it - for our bodies either.
Now of course the company that makes this product assures you that neotame is perfectly safe, while at the same time they manufacture neotame through a chemical reaction between aspartame and a substance that is classified as unsafe (see below).
Now let's get technical for a second. (Or skip this section to the yellow om symbol if technical is not your thing.)
Neotame is a chemical made by combining nutrasweet with a chemical called 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyde.
This chemical is partly used to certain block enzymes that break the peptide bond between aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Phenylalanine can be dangerous to some people (I believe it's one reason a major side effect of nutrasweet is numbness and/or headaches - think nervous system toxicant - for many of my clients.) and this process helps to reduce the level of phenylalanine which basically for the user means there is no warning label on these products as there is for nutrasweet which doesn't breakdown phenylalanine and therefore must have this warning label.
(I do feel other warning labels would be useful too however I don't work for the FDA and I am thinking they didn't get my letter ;-)
Now this doesn't mean this is safe, it's just one reason you won't see as many warnings - I actually believe this product could be worse than aspartame but I and the FDA haven't done a lot of testing on it yet so none of us are certain of the effects. Isn't it amazing how many products become somehow more thoroughly tested AFTER making it to market?
The reason is the 3,3-Dimethylbutyraldehyde is toxic in a whole new way. On it's own, this chemical is is categorized as a toxicant that you can't even touch without a warning. The chemical warnings listed are for both the physical contact and the vapors. All say that coming into contact with this chemical is dangerous and causes irritation (I think of a cleaning product that is toxic) and if irritation continues seek medical care immediately. (here is a link to a chemical site - please let me know if this link becomes unavailable at anytime.)
Does this sound like something you want to put into your body?
How do we KNOW where it is?
One thing to realize is that because of neotame's ability to not breakdown in heat the way nutrasweet can, it has the potential to be more widely used in baked products like splenda is. It also seems to be less expensive than splenda and cost is the main reason these chemicals are so popular - they are much less expensive than sugar and some of the information I read was that this one is much less expensive than corn syrup - a very inexpensive sweetener. So this could end up to be a larger issue for those trying to avoid it.
Another challenge, as is often the case, is that in different countries, the new chemical is actually called something different and with many of us traveling and taking in foods from different countries, we need to know the specifics.
There are over 30 countries now allowing this chemical. In the EU, the chemical is not called neotame in products but has been given a numeric value of E-961. In Australia (it looks like one of the top countries using this chemical as an additive right now - mostly in drinks and sweetened treats) and New Zealand that use the International Numbering System the number is the same without the E so 961.
I am trying to get a full list of products right now that this chemical is in and will post this when I do.
For information on the countries that use neotame and more information (please realize this is the neotame marketing site and it may not agree with me and I'm ok with that, my beliefs aren't for everyone).
Because it isn't as famous as other chemicals in our food, I felt it a good thing to write about. Trying to get ahead of the game!
Hope you found this useful, and maybe a little humorous, we need humor when dealing with this type of thing sometimes, though the topic really isn't funny.
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