(NaturalNews) New Zealand beverage manufacturer Phoenix Organics has launched an anti-aspartame campaign called "Think Before You Drink," to inform people about what it says are serious health risks from the artificial sweetener.
Aspartame is a common zero-calorie sweetener, marketed under brand names including Equal, NutraSweet, Canderel and Tropicana Slim and used in more than 6,000 products worldwide.
As part of the new campaign, Phoenix Organics has labeled 20,000 bottles of Phoenix Organic Cola with information about the potential health risks of aspartame, and plans to give out those bottles for free over the next few months. The company has also created a section on its Web site linking to information about the chemical and "the 92 different symptoms noted in over 10,000 complaints received by the FDA."
"Having read the Bressler Report of the FDA and other reports on the effects of aspartame, we had the living daylights scared out of all of us," said company directors Stefan Lepionka and Marc Ellis. "We cannot believe that the New Zealand government has declared this safe in the face of such evidence."
The Bressler Report was a 1977 FDA report on the inadequacies of aspartame maker GD Searle's trials into the safety of the chemical. In 1981, Searle Chief Operating Officer Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense for Gerald Ford and later serving the same position for George W. Bush, reapplied for FDA authorization. Aspartame was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for beverages in 1983.
Numerous studies have linked aspartame to brain damage and cancer, while others have shown that it breaks down in the body into toxic byproducts such as formaldehyde.
Lepionka and Ellis expressed concern that in the face of increasing efforts to remove sugary soft drinks from school grounds, beverage companies have suggested aspartame-containing diet soda as a good alternative.
"Phoenix Organics has contacted a number of groups that have been fighting to raise awareness of the health concerns surrounding aspartame and said the company will do whatever it can to support the overall aim to have the government restrict and ban aspartame," they said.