From August onwards Aspartame-free cans of diet pepsi will go on sale in the United States.
The company maintains that it’s decision is not based on health concerns but consumer preference.
Regulators in both he US and UK insist that aspartame is safe to use in soft drinks.
But demand for the product shows that there is some concern amongst the consumers. Sales of Diet Pepsi fell by more than 5 per cent last year. Similarly, sales of Diet Coke fell by 6 per cent.
“Aspartame is the number one reason consumers are dropping diet soda,” Seth Kaufman, vice-president of Pepsi, told the media.
It will be replaced with another sweetener, sucralose, mixed with acesulfame potassium.
Mr Kaufman said that, in tests, people still recognised the reformulated drink to be Diet Pepsi but it might have a “slightly different mouth-feel”.
Since it was first approved for use in the 1980’s Aspartame, or E951, sparked controversy.
The food additive is about 200 times sweeter than sugar but contains fewer calories.
Many other foods and drinks around the world use the sugar substitute, such as chewing gums and breakfast cereals.
Despite being ‘one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives’, food safety experts have been keeping a watchful eye over Aspartame since a number of anecdotal reports pointed to potential side-effects.
A study by Italian researchers at the Ramazzini Foundation in Bologna, found that rats given dosages of aspartame equivalent to those in humans may develop tumours and several types of cancer.
Similarly, an EU-funded project published in 2010 found that pregnant women who drank fizzy drinks containing artificial sweeteners appear to be at greater risk of having a premature baby.
European food regulators remained unconvinced by the research and concluded that the additive could continue to be used.
But, leading British expert. Erik Millstone, a professor of science policy at the University of Sussex, believes the decision by the EUFSA is ‘biased and ‘deeply flawed’.
Millstone also suggested that the EFSA panel was dominated by experts who were linked to manufacturers or food regulators that have previously supported aspartame.
“Of the 17 members of the EFSA panel, seven have direct commercial conflicts of interest, and another five have institutional conflicts of interest, for example, because their employers have already announced that aspartame is safe,” Professor Millstone told reporters.