Here’s something that surprised me. The connection of Donald Rumsfeld to aspartame’s approval:
Seriously, though: Diet Coke is a nutritional void. Human bodies evolved to make use of a variety of foods, but I doubt isolated versions of phosphoric acid, etc., are among them. And aspartame, aka Nutrasweet, may cause active damage.
Can this questionable brew be made “healthy” by adding a few isolated nutrients, quite likely conjured up in the bustling labs of Archer Daniels Midland?
No, I don’t think it works that way. Michael Pollan’s recent New York Times Magazine piece exposed the absurdity of that notion. It turns out that systematically stripping nutrition out of food, and then adding it later in isolated form, is a bust. Isolated vitamins and other nutrients just don’t pack the same benefits as when they occur in whole foods.
Then there’s the question of aspartame. Italian researchers writing in Environmental Health Perspectives recently added (PDF) to a growing body of literature pointing to aspartame’s possible role as a carcinogen.
Why would the FDA allow it? In 1981, a company called Searle owned the patent on aspartame, already known, paradoxically, as Nutrasweet. The company’s CEO? Donald Rumsfeld — not too far removed from serving as Gerald Ford’s secretary of defense. Don’t believe me? Check it out.
Then-president Ronald Reagan had appointed a man named Arthur Hull Hayes as his FDA chair. In 1981, Hayes approved aspartame over the objections of several internal panels.
So I checked out the link provided on that “check it out” line:
The lemonade was free. The strawberries and the chewing gum were, too. These confections, offered at a press conference by G.D. Searle & Company yesterday, are just a few of the food items that will contain the company’s new low-calorie sweetener.
The sweetener is aspartame, a food additive approved Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration. Many believe the additive will eventually steal away much of the existing $115 million annual demand for saccharin, currently the only substitute for sugar in the United States, and possibly convert some sugar users as well.
…..(goes on about aspartame and Searle )….
The company has been under the command of Donald H. Rumsfeld, its president and chief executive, since 1977. Mr. Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense in the Ford Administration and before that had served four terms in Congress.
NY Times, 1981. Fairly reliable, I would say.