Developed by Monsanto and made by NutraSweet, neotame was approved in 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This artificial sweetener is being used as an additive in practically anything humans consume from soft drinks, dairy products, and yogurt to frozen desserts and even chewing gum. In addition, and unlike aspartame, neotame can stand a higher temperature heat, so many food manufacturers are including it in baked goods. Neotame has become an ingredient in hundreds of food products and is often blended with other synthetic sweeteners. Most recently it has been added to the feed for some livestock being raised for human consumption.
It is estimated that neotame is between 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar, which would allow food manufacturers to use less in their products. And since the FDA does not require labels to include ingredients that contribute less than one percent of the product, in some instances neotame can be used in foods without having to be listed on the label. Neotame is also hidden under the infamous “natural flavors” category on some packaged foods.
This highly concentrated, white crystalline powder contains the same synthetic derivative of the two amino acids as aspartame – L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine – plus the chemical methanol, or wood alcohol. To this compound 3-dimethylbutyl has been added. NutraSweet company states that neotame is perfectly safe, yet 3-dimethylbutyl happens to be on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most hazardous chemical list.
Neotame does not have to carry the Phenylketonurics (PKU) warning on labels that include their ingredient. Phenylketonurics – or PKU – is the term used to refer to individuals that have the metabolic disorder Phenylketonuria. Those with this disorder cannot consume products that contain phenylalanine. Therefore, if products containing neotame do not include a warning label or state the ingredient is included, it could be potentially quite dangerous for these individuals.
Marketing companies claim that man-made chemical sweeteners help in the battle against obesity and in the onset of obesity-related diseases, yet statistics prove otherwise. Research has found that these artificial chemicals lead to weight gain by rapidly stimulating the release of insulin and leptin, two hormones that are directly related to satiety and fat storage.
It would seem that adding more chemicals to an already problematic chemical solution would only create more problems in the long run. At this time, long term effects on humans are unknown.