Archive for January 28th, 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.


January 2009
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