Aspartame History Highlights

Twenty Years of NutraSweet/Equal (Aspartame)
By Dr. Janet Starr Hull

History Highlights:

There is so much information on the dangers of aspartame found in NutraSweet and Equal I could write a book about it - well, actually I did. In 1997, after being diagnosed with an incurable case of Grave's Disease caused by aspartame, I wrote Sweet Poison: How The World's Most Popular Artificial Sweetener Is Killing Us-My Story exposing the dangers of this artificial sweetener. The following timeline is an excerpt from my book.

1965 : Jim Schlatter, a chemist at G.D. Searle & Company was working on a project to discover new treatments for gastric ulcers . He accidentally spilled some of the heated chemical on his hand. Later he licked his finger as he reached for a piece of paper, and noticed the sweet taste. He and a friend decided to test some in coffee and both agreed the chemical had a sweet taste. The result: aspartame. The manufacturer merely changed the FDA paperwork from drug to food additive, but did not change the substance itself.

1969 : G.D. Searle applied for the first patent on aspartame. Saccharin and cyclamate were alleged to cause bladder cancer in rats.

March 1973 : G.D. Searle submitted its first petition to the FDA for aspartame use in foods.

1974 : FDA approved aspartame use in carbonated beverages and in dry products.

December 1975 : FDA task force concluded that some of Searle's studies were questionable and rescinded aspartame approval.

April 1976 : FDA Commissioner Schmidt wrote Senator Ted Kennedy, informing him of G.D. Searle's "questionable integrity of the basic safety data submitted (by Searle) for aspartame safety."

January 1977 : FDA Chief Counsel Richard Merrill submitted a thirty-three-page letter to U.S. attorney Samuel Skinner recommending a grand jury investigation into G.D. Searle "for concealing material facts and making false statements in reports of animal studies to establish the safety of aspartame." Two specific studies of concern were cited. No action was taken, and the statute of limitations for prosecution expired.

July 1977 : Samuel Skinner left the U.S. attorney's office to represent G.D. Searle's law firm, Sidley and Austin.

October 1980 : FDA appointed Public Board of Inquiry submitted a written recommendation that NutraSweet not be approved pending further brain tumor testing.

May 1981 : Three of six FDA scientists formally advised against aspartame approval.

July 1981 : Newly appointed FDA Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. solely approved NutraSweet (aspartame) for dry products.

July 1983 : FDA Acting-Commissioner Mark Novitch, M.D. approved aspartame in carbonated beverages and carbonated beverage syrup bases.

October 1983 : The NutraSweet Company filed two patent extensions for an extension of five years, ten months and seventeen days (each).

November 1984 : Center for Disease Control (CDC) published the first list of consumer complaints related to aspartame use.

July 1986 : The NutraSweet Company filed thirty patent extensions for an extension of five years, ten months and seventeen days (each).

November 1987 : "NutraSweet: Health and Safety Concerns" hearing was held by the U.S. Committee on Labor and Human Resources, Senator Howard Metzenbaum, chairman.

September 1992 : FDA released a list of ninety-two complaint categories filed against NutraSweet, totaling over 10,000 complaints filed.

December 1992 : G.D. Searle's patent extensions on aspartame expired, allowing other companies to produce aspartame.

The rest is history in the making. So, before you tear open that little blue packet of sweetener and stir it into your coffee, study today's history lesson!

Posted on April 21, 2006 in History | Link

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