RE: aspartame

Vandergraaf, Chuck (
Wed, 5 May 1999 17:47:05 -0400


> Methanol is 10% of aspartame. Methanol is toxic especially to the optic
> nerve; and the poisoning effects of taking methanol are cumulative.
> Methanol
> also breaks down into several carcinogens. Methanol is absorbed more
> rapidly
> if it is broken down by long storage or heating. The FDA, however,
> approved
> aspartame even for baked goods. I might mention that I have a number of
> instances in my files of the FDA putting private profit of large
> industries
> before public health.
This is interesting. I am aware that methanol is toxic; there have been a
number of cases of blindness caused by methanol poisoning (I remember
reading about a large number of cases in Algeria some time ago). However,
how much aspartame is there in foodstuff? Considering the small amount in
packaged artificial sweetener in restaurants, I would think not very much.
If methanol is only 10% of that, how much would an average user take in per
day? How does it compare with methanol levels in other foodstuffs?

You mention that methanol "breaks down into several carcinogens." Methanol,
CH3OH, is a very simple molecule. My organic chemistry is very rusty, but
I can only think of two possible reactions, an oxidation to form
formaldehyde (CH2O) and an oxidation to form CO2 and H2O.

If the FDA is indeed putting private profits of large industries ahead of
public health and this is documented, how does the FDA get away with it and
why doesn't somebody take them to court?

I find this an interesting topic on two accounts:
1. I teach a course in environmental science at a nearby college and
stress, among other, an awareness of scare tactics.
2. There is a current debate in Canada on the merits and dangers of
genetically altered products in food. Typically, both sides come with
arguments pro and con, and the media, not knowing which side to take, give
equal weight to both or favour the nay-sayers.

I realize that this is getting well off the main thrust of the ASA and will
be happy to continue this discussion privately.

I'm looking forward to what Janine comes up with in her study of scare

Chuck Vandergraaf
Pinawa, MB