Food democracy gets a boost from Woolies with the removal of aspartame
Food democracy, the growing trend whereby consumers are flexing their muscles and influencing decisions made by big food retailers and producers, is finding a foothold in South Africa.The first big retailer to pay close attention to what customers are saying, is Woolworths. In fact, it's in response to requests from customers that Woolworths has become the first South African retailer to remove aspartame from its foods.
It's not the only so-called 'artificial' sweetener to go, either. Woolworths has also removed the sweeteners saccharin and cyclamate from its own-brand foods.
"Quite a number of our customers have expressed their concern about these sweeteners. They've let us know that they don't want them in their food," explains Woolworths Food Divisional Director Julian Novak.
Novak also points out that the move is in keeping with Woolworths Good Food Journey. "Minimising the use of additives in our foods wherever possible is one of our goals," he explains. "We started by not using MSG and tartrazine several year ago. Last year we also took the step of removing added sugar from our fruit nectars, also in response to concerns among customers. Not only is this is the next logical step -- we're very pleased to say that we've been able to do it without having any impact on price."
This nasty chemical aspartame is made by Ajinomoto, the world's largest neurotoxic chemical additive maker, along with MSG.
Aspartame's approval was forced onto the market in 1981 by Donald Rumsfeld, at that time with G.D. Searle, in order for him to make $12-15 million personal profit.
It was next made by Monsanto, and now Ajinomoto.