Archive for January, 2009

“NutraSweet Pink”: Marketing Deception or Health Danger?

Today was that rarest of days–when my co-workers and I had time and ability to go out to lunch together at a local chain steakhouse/buffet establishment.  You know the type–where they have a bodacious array of foods you can get quickly at the buffet, or you can order the too-thin, over-seasoned cheap cut of steak.  The rolls are always to die for, though.

I got my meat-and-three (vegetables, if you’re not from the South) and ordered my unsweetened iced tea.  When it arrived, I absently reached for the little pink packet of saccharine (I use Splenda at home, but one individual restaurant pack is insufficient for a large glass of iced tea.  One pack of saccharine, however, always does the job nicely).

Luckily for me, something on the little pink packet caught my eye before I opened it–this yellow swath that read “100% Saccharine Free.”  Well, I thought, if it’s pink and it’s saccharine free, then what the hell’s IN this???

Then I saw the rest of the front of the package and learned it was this:

NutraSweet's New Pink Packaging

NutraSweet's New Pink Packaging

Then I turned it to the back and read the ingredient list:  Dextrose (a complex sugar similar to sucrose, which is the cane sugar so readily available) with maltodextrin, Acesulfame Potassium (the generic name for aspartame, the ingredient branded as NutraSweet), and something called “Neotame”–maybe it came from the Matrix.

This innocent-looking packet on the restaurant table is a marketing deception of the most insidious sort and a potential health hazard.  Everyone knows that white or tan is sugar, pink is saccharine, blue is aspartame, and yellow is sucralose!  No one reads these labels anymore, and the makers of this new “NutraSweet Pink” are WELL aware of it!  In fact, I’d wager that they’re counting on it.

Under normal circumstances, it might be a bit of marketing genius–evil marketing genius no doubt, but still marketing genius.  What makes this intolerably insidious is the fact that a significant enough segment of the American public have a severe medical reaction to aspartame–caused by a genetic condition called phenylketonuria, in which the body is unable to break down the amino acid contained in aspartame.  Ingesting NutraSweet and its generic equivalents can cause severe brain damage in phenylketonuretics, and if you look carefully at any product containing aspartame, you will find a health warning about it.  Guess where the health warning was on my little pink packet?  If you said “nowhere,” give yourself a gold star.

While I am not a phenylketonuretic, I do avoid aspartame as much as possible because it gives me terrible headaches–a common side effect.  As said before, Splenda seems to be the lesser of three evils, and it is what we keep at home due to diabetes in the family.

Folks, let the people who have unleashed this danger on the public know that we will not tolerate this deceptive health hazard!  NutraSweet originally packaged their product in blue to distinguish it from rival Sweet’N Low.  Now they’re ADOPTING pink to make us think their product IS Sweet’N Low.

Let’s not stand for this!  The producers of this abomination, according to my little deceptive pink packet, is below.  Sadly, I couldn’t find a website.  If either of you out there in cyberspace do, let me know and I’ll add a link.

Domino Foods, Inc.
1 Federal St.
Yonkers, NY, 10705

Refuse to be suckered by NutraSweet.  Let Domino Foods know your displeasure.  But if you do nothing else, make sure you read those little pink packets carefully from now on.  It matters.  It matters big.

Oh, yeah, as I was leaving the restaurant, I suddenly realized that in my distraction over the deceptive pink imposter, I had forgotten to get a roll.  Thanks for less than nothing, NutraSweet.

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A Little Cheese to Go with the Longhorns’ Whine

In the “Definition of Chutzpah” department, University of Texas coach Mack Brown fired the first salvo in the Longhorns’ bid to be voted the AP Coaches’ Poll National Champion after UT’s pitiful performance in last night’s Fiesta Bowl.  In todays’ Austin American-Statesman, Brown (who does, by the way, gets a vote) said:

I wasn’t sure before, but on Friday, I’ll vote Texas No. 1 because I believe this is the best team in the country.

Get real, Mack.  The way you’re dancing to the tune played by the Texas Ex’s (their Alumni Association) is more in line with a head coach at Texas A&M than UT.  It’s especially embarrassing in light of the fact that the Aggies haven’t won a piece of a National Championship in football since 1939–and never won one outright.

Last night, for 59 of the Fiesta Bowl’s 60 minutes, Texas produced their most lackluster performance of the season.  The Keystone Cops were better organized than the Longhorns’ offensive line.  Don’t believe me?  Look here.

OK, so Colt McCoy made a (literally) last-minute drive to save some semblance of the season.  Big deal.  For 59 minutes and 43 seconds, the Longhorns could not obtain a lead over the most over-rated team in the NCAA.  Ohio State lost its last two bowl games by a total of 30 points.  The Longhorns barely managed to beat the Buckeyes by three.

I know I am not making any friends in my adopted home here in Austin, but the truth hurts.  That’s the good thing about being a die-hard disciple of the Southeastern Conference in the land of what I call “The Big Two (and all those other guys).”  Objectivity.

That is, to a point.  I will be hollerin’ “Boomer Sooner” Thursday night while huddled over the download to my laptop hoping for a massive Oklahoma win. (Do we eschew cable/satellite because Hubby’s a techno-geek or because we’re just too dadgum cheap?  Inquiring minds want to know.)  I’m not backing OU just to shut up the whiners once and for all.  I’m doing it because I’m Bulldawg born and Bulldawg bred and I wouldn’t root for Florida with three engines out on the team plane.  The thought of the Phlorida Philistines with more bragging rights just curdles my stomach.

Besides, I live for those shots of Urban Meyer hiking up his britches after a play goes south.  You’ve never noticed he does that?  To resurrect a popular catchphrase from the recent Presidential campaign, “You betcha! *wink*”  It’s just as much fun as watching Steve Spurrier throwing down his headphones, his visor and (FTW!) his clipboard.

If there is any justice in this world, on Thursday night Urban Meyer will walk off with a permanent wedgie.

Then again, we are talking about the BCS.  “Justice” doesn’t exist.


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