Morpheus on… Aspartame

I see that once more, poor old aspartame is taking a beating. Pepsi are phasing out this artificial sweetener in America because yet again, people are being convinced that it is a demon.

The thing is though, that along with monosodium glutamate (MSG) it is one of the most tested substances in the World – and time after time has been proven to be benign.

But this has not stopped various political and social groups from performing their own half-arsed tests on it and declaring it to be lethal – likewise, MSG.

And inevitably, while the junk-food giants’ researchers perform properly-done, exhaustive tests on these substances, who will most people believe?

Remember that story that if you left a human tooth in a glass of Coke, it would dissolve overnight? Utter bollocks – but people still accept it.

Coca-Cola themselves addressed the myth: “This is a popular urban legend – and totally untrue. Coca-Cola will not dissolve teeth or meat overnight. There is a small amount of edible acid present in many foods, including fruit juices and soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, but these foods are not acidic enough to harm your body tissues – in fact, your own natural stomach acid is more acidic.

“Any food or drink that contains sugars and starches, including calorific sparkling drinks, can play a role in the development of tooth decay. Also, any food or drink that is acidic has the potential to play a role in enamel erosion. Through good dental hygiene and other health practices, you can help reduce the risk of tooth decay and erosion. The best way to protect teeth is to brush them twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.”

And of course, they were right. Nevertheless, over the last few years, both Coke and Pepsi have seen sales decline. But is the fear of aspartame really the reason?

In Britain (and presumably, the West in general) Pepsi and Coke sell for around two pounds (three bucks) a big bottle in supermarkets (and far more, elsewhere). Yet here in the Orient, those same supermarkets sell identical bottles for less than fifty pence (eighty cents).

Now, given that the production and bottling are hardly labour-intensive – and the local advertising is even more intensive – how is this price-difference justified? It appears that like Walls Magnums (classed as “indulgence” ice creams – and also much cheaper here) the main factor is – they charge what people will PAY.

So rather than pandering to the radical food-nazis – perhaps Pepsi et al would do better looking at their PRICE structuring…


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