In a letter to New Scientist (issue 24 June 2006) Richard Laming of the British Soft Drinks Association states:
'Intense sweeteners allow consumers to enjoy soft drinks while restricting their calorie intake if they wish to do so. They are always listed on the label so that consumers can have the choice'
How does this stand up to reality? In a visit to my local Tesco supermarket I was unable to find a single 2 litre bottle of lemonade which did NOT contain Aspartame. In each case the bottle was passed to me to read because my wife was unable to read the tiny print on the list of ingredients. (The one brand of lemonade which I know does not contain Aspartame, 7-up, was out of stock). Some choice!
Now I'm not saying Aspartame is bad - I just remain confused as to whether it is or is not safe so in the meantime I choose not to eat or drink the stuff.
Footnote Sept 28 2007
I'm pleased to find that Asda, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury have now stopped adding Aspartame to their own brand drinks. That means you can once again buy low cost lemonade without the stuff. Now maybe we can persuade Tesco to do the same?
Footnote April 2009
It seems that pandas are unique amongst animals in that they prefer the taste of Aspartame. In an experiment they, along with other animals were given a choice of water flavoured with six different natural sweeteners or six different artificial sweeteners. Only the pandas chose Aspartame - all the other animals (apart from cats, who can't taste sweetness) chose natural sweeteners. Hey - maybe that's why pandas are an endangered species? BBC news feature
Answer to Brain Teaser
Jane really said "I'm 2A today. Last year I was 29 (in hexadecimal numbers) and in two years time I'll be 2C"
If she's 2A in hexadecimal then that makes her 42 in the 'normal' decimal system.