Recognizing the push from consumers to get rid of aspartame, PepsiCo says it will launch Diet Pepsi in the U.S. later this year without the sweetener, according to reports by the company today.
"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 of Pepsi and Flavors Portfolio, PepsiCo North America Beverages, in a release. "We recognize that consumer demand is evolving, and we're confident that cola lovers will enjoy the crisp, refreshing taste of this new product."
While considered safe, the sweetener will be replaced with a blend of sucralose and acesulfame potassium, which are also "artificial" sweeteners, but "do not get as much bad press as aspartame," the company reports. But many consumers say they prefer not to have it in their cola, added PepsiCo, which will also remove aspartame from Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi in the U.S. The revised drinks will go into stores by August.
Kaufman said that consumers have increasingly been asking for a great-tasting cola without aspartame. Aspartame has been scrutinized by activist groups over concerns that it may be carcinogenic, and some retailers rate it as an "unacceptable" ingredient.
The revised Diet Pepsi products will stand alone among top U.S. diet soda brands, according to reports stating that all of the other major diet brands incorporate aspartame or a blend of sweeteners with aspartame. Pepsi earlier launched a lower-calorie cola called Pepsi True, which contains stevia. Stevia is also used by Coca-Cola for its own version of a lower-calorie cola called Coca-Cola Life, though a cnbc.com report indicates Coca-Cola Coke stated, "There are currently no plans to change the sweetener for Diet Coke."
PepsiCo's decision follows Kraft Foods Group's announcement just days ago to remove synthetic colors and artificial preservatives from its classic Original Kraft Macaroni Cheese in the U.S.