Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum.
Mission Possible World Health International
9270 River Club Parkway
Duluth, Georgia 30097
Telephone: 770-242-2599

Posted: 08 August 2008

From: Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum.,
Date: Thu, Aug 07, 2008 8:03 pm
Subject: CBS, WebMD: Complete History Of Aspartame And This Shameful Report

Dear WebMD and CBS:

This is one of the most sorriest stories I've read in a long time. This article was written to tell people don't worry about these poisons, everything is just fine and dandy. You say sometimes it can take years or even decades to find the truth. Perhaps checking on the truth instead of propaganda would be of benefit to your readers not trash to help the food industry and the aspartame manufacturers.

How long has it been known that aspartame is an addictive excitoneurotoxic carcinogenic drug that interacts with virtually all drugs and vaccines, a chemical poison? The FDA knew immediately. back in the l970's. The original manufacturer, Searle, couldn't take a poison and make it show safety so they got caught with their pants down doing such things as filtering out neoplasms so the FDA wouldn't see them, and removing brain tumors from rats, then putting them back in the study and when the rats died they resurrected them on paper. So the FDA asked that Searle be indicted for fraud. Showing you the power of the aspartame industry both U.S. Prosecutors Sam Skinner and William Conlon hired on with the defense team and the statute of limitations expired. But the FDA had no intention of allowing this deadly poison to be on the market and revoked the petition for approval. Here it is:

Don Rumsfeld was CEO of Searle at the time, put there because of Searle's problems, to clean up those problems and get aspartame on the market. Talking to former employees they told me "everyone knew aspartame was poison and people thought the office would be closed down". The Bressler Report shows you some of the things Searle did: However, this is not the worst of the report as there is 20% missing, two mice studies that were conveniently removed when the FDA re-typed the report. The FDA thought it was so bad and so poisonous they didn't want anyone to know how bad aspartame really is, which doesn't say much for the FDA even though they tried to prevent approval. Dr. H. J. Roberts even asked his congressman to get the remainder after talking to Jerome Bressler but the FDA told the congressman it was confidential and they weren't going to release it even though its public record. So you have a corrupt FDA. I even attempted to get this material through FOIA but first it was confidential and then it was destroyed. Pretty pathetic. But the Bressler Report as stated above shows what Searle did to try and hide the facts.

Don Rumsfeld also knowing it was poison said he would call in his markers and get it approved anyway. What were those markers? President Reagan had promised to nominate Rumsfeld as Vice President and instead used George Bush. So Rumsfeld felt Reagan owed him a favor. The day after he took office he appointed Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes to be FDA Commissioner to over-rule the Board of Inquiry. The day after FDA had revoked the petition Searle sued to keep FDA Commissioner Jere Goyan from signing that petition into law. In the meantime, what to do with Jere Goyan who his wife said Rumsfeld had said had to go, because if he signed the petition aspartame would never have gotten on the market and millions of people the world over would be alive today who are now dead from this deadly chemical poison. Here's what happened. A member of the Reagan Transition Team called Jere Goyan at three AM and fired him. Here's a letter from his wife confirming this:

President Reagan then wrote an Executive Order making the FDA powerless to do anything about aspartame until Arthur Hull Hayes got to the FDA 30 days later. From the aspartame documentary, Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, here is the clip where James Turner, Atty, tells about this and the Executive Order: Then the Executive Order which by law must be public record was expunged so nobody could see it. Don Rumsfeld should be put on an iceberg and sent out to sea for the murders of all those who have died from aspartame, and those who are disabled the world over. Mission Possible International is a global volunteer force with operations in 39 nations of the world warning all consumers off this deadly poison.

Once Arthur Hull Hayes took office he over-ruled the Board of Inquiry and then went to work for the PR Agency of the manufacturer and has refused to talk to the press ever since. He was on contract for $1000.00 a day for ten years. Quite a reward for getting a poison on the market that would kill millions and because of its addictive nature would make the company billions. One article says Hayes over the years was never at Burston Marstellar but about 15 days.

In l983/84 Searle decided to see just how fast aspartame kills and did studies in 6 countries. According to translator N. Vera people were sacrificed from poor villages. Some died. The studies showed aspartame hardens the synovial fluids which accounts for the horrible joint pain many times given the junkbucket diagnosis fibromyalgia so many aspartame victims experience. Some got brain tumors and some seizures. They showed aspartame destroys the brain and the central nervous system. Her affidavit also shows that the pregnant woman lost her baby, hemorrhaged and disappeared. They were never published, of course. Searle sold to Monsanto and Rummy got 12 million making his fortune for getting a deadly poisoned marketed for human consumption. According to NutraPoison by Alex Constantine: and the prestigious Ecologist in 2005: aspartame was listed with the pentagon in an inventory of prospective biochemical warfare weapons submitted to Congress. So instead of poisoning the enemy aspartame was used to poison consumers in the US and eventually in 100 countries of the world. Monsanto eventually sold to Ajinomoto, Merisant (a group of Monsanto managers), Michael Dell and Child's. Ajinomoto owns the major part of the aspartame industry.

When aspartame was originally approved immediately people began getting seizures, being diagnosed with MS, fibromyalgia, lupus and many other diseases and symptoms. The FDA listed 92 documented symptoms including the ultimate "symptom" death. Senator Howard Metzenbaum immediately tried to get congressional hearings. Senator Orrin Hatch refused until l985 and he was given money by Monsanto. It was because of his influence it is believed that a bill by Senator Metzenbaum never got out of committee. It would have put a moratorium on aspartame and had NIH do independent studies on the problems being seen in the population such as seizures, what it does to the fetus, behavioral problems and drug interactions. Here is the May Congressional hearing: So because of Monsanto's influence and paying senators nothing happened. There was another congressional hearing in August, l985. Even FDA's own toxicologists testified against the FDA.

On August 1, l985 the FDA's own toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross, told Congress at least one of Searle's studies "has established beyond ANY REASONABLE DOUBT that aspartame is capable of inducing brain tumors in experimental animals and that this predisposition of it is of extremely high significance. ... In view of these indications that the cancer causing potential of aspartame is a matter that had been established WAY BEYOND ANY REASONABLE DOUBT, one can ask: What is the reason for the apparent refusal by the FDA to invoke for this food additive the so-called Delaney Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act?"

Dr. Jacqueline Verrett, a former FDA toxicologist, and member of an FDA task force that investigated the authenticity of research done by Searle to establish the safety of aspartame, said she believes the original aspartame studies were "built on a foundation of sand." (Testimony of Dr. Jacqueline Verrett, FDA Toxicologist, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, regarding "NutraSweet Health and Safety Concerns." (November 3, l987)

She testified in front of a U.S. Senate hearing in 1987 that flawed tests conducted by Searle -- used as the basis of FDA approval - were a "disaster" and should have been "thrown out." She said she believed the studies left many unanswered questions about possible birth defects and the safety of aspartame. Verrett said the team was instructed not to be concerned with, or comment upon, the overall validity of the study. She said a subsequent review discarded or ignored the problems and deficiencies outlined by her team's original report. She said, "serious departures from acceptable toxicological protocols" that her investigative team noted in the reevaluation of these studies were also discounted.

She warned that any of the improper practices would compromise and negate a safety study of a food additive. Verrett concluded the data in the study was worthless, and the safety of aspartame and its breakdown products have therefore not been determined. She emphasized that aspartame exists in the marketplace without basic toxicity information. She said there are no data to assess the interactions with DKP, excess phenylalanine, other aspartame metabolites, additives, drugs or other chemicals.

In her testimony, Verrett elaborated on DKP problems which aspartame breaks down to, including significant increases of uterine polyps and changes in blood cholesterol. DKP is formed when liquids in particular are pre-sweetened with aspartame. The production of DKP is vulnerable to increase in temperature, and higher temperatures produce increasing amounts of DKP. She reminded members of the Congressional Committee "that is why initially, aspartame was not intended or not planned to be used in liquids because of this was decided it was too unstable to be used in hot preparations, hot liquids, and also in diet drinks.

Keep in mind that even though the FDA knew you could not heat aspartame, its adulterated and decomposes as discussed in the protest of the National Soft Drink Association, now American Beverage they turned right around and approved it for baking in 1993. Note now that its been proven that aspartame violates the Delaney Amendment because it causes cancer, adulteration laws and the law is identified in the NSDA protest above, and even interstate commerce laws because you can't ship an adulterated product for sale. These diet drinks were sent to the Persian Gulf where they sat in 120 degree Arabian sun and the troops drank them all day. No wonder that the list of symptoms for Desert Storm Illness is identical to the FDA list of 92 symptoms. The troops have many of the problems so notorious with aspartame such as Lou Gehrigs and MS, brain tumors, memory loss, joint pain, etc. Because aspartame is a poison, a chemical hypersensitization agent it even interacts with other toxins so in the case of depleted uranium the troops problems would be more serious.

Dr. James Bowen who has Lou Gehrigs or ALS from aspartame wrote the FDA 20 years ago and told them aspartame is mass poisoning of the American public and more than 70+ countries of the world (now over 100) and that everyone involved should be criminally prosecuted. Amen. His letter regarding labeling is on under experts. This should include the FDA who today is protecting the aspartame manufacturers even though they know it's a deadly poison.

It was James Turner, DC attorney and former Nader Raider who with the famed Dr. John Olney who founded the field of neuroscience called excitotoxicity, tried to prevent approval of aspartame. Here is Dr. Olney's 49 page report to the FDA Board of Inquiry about how aspartame if approved would destroy the brains of our children. The FDA agreed. Today there is no warning about birth defects on the label and ADD, ADHD, Tourettes and autism and such are epidemic. Even Dr. Louis Elsas testified before Congress in May, 1985, who at the time was a Pediatric Professor at Emory University, genetics. Back on November 3, l987 he told Congress: .."I am a pediatrician, a Professor of Pediatrics at Emory, and have spent 25 years in the biomedical sciences, trying to prevent mental retardation and birth defects caused by excess phenylalanine. And therein lies my basic concern, that aspartame is in fact a well known neurotoxin and teratogen which, in some as yet undefined dose, will both reversibly in the adult and irreversibly in the developing child or fetal brain, produce adverse effects."

So when you wonder about birth defects are so epidemic its because 70% of the population are using aspartame. It completely destroys families. As Dr. Bowen wrote in Aspartame Murders Infants: "In every point in the fertility process aspartame destroys, beginning with the gleam in Mom and Pope's eyes: it ruins female sexual response and induces male sexual dysfunction. Beyond this, aspartame disrupts fetal development by aborting it or inducing defects. And if a live child is born aspartame may have heinously damaged the DNA of the baby, cursing future generations.

Talking about future generations, Dr. M. Soffritti, did the prestigious Ramazzini Study in Italy in 2005 and showed what the FDA knew over a quarter of a century ago, that aspartame is a multipotential carcinogen. Besides brain tumors aspartame triggered thyroid, pancreatic, ovarian, uterine, testicular and mammary tumors for starters. The aspartame industry did everything possible to rebut this million dollar prestigious independent study peer reviewed by 7 world experts. Here is one bogus study they tried to use: The aspartame industry knew they had had it and they went all out to refute the study. The FDA and the European Union were asked about the seriousness of aspartame causing cancer. Would you believe what their excuse is for not removing it from the above New York Times article: " Putting restrictions on aspartame would come at a significant cost. Food companies and consumers around the world bought about $570 million worth of it last year. New regulatory action on aspartame would also jeopardize the billions of dollars worth of products sold with it." So neither the FDA nor the European Union were the least bit interested in the health of the world in using this carcinogen but were concerned about the finances of the manufacturers, and this is with full knowledge that aspartame is a deadly poison. This is an abomination!

Because of this rebuttal Dr. Soffritti did another study showing not only is aspartame a multipotential carcinogen but even in small amounts and can be passed on through the mother to her offspring. Wonder why there is an epidemic of cancer? Now you know.

Of course aspartame is a carcinogen. The FDA knew it decades ago. Not only does it cause cancer but the formaldehyde converted from the free methyl alcohol actually embalms living tissue and damages DNA. When you damage DNA you can destroy humanity. Here is the actual Trocho Study done in Barcelona that proved this. I spoke to Dr. Alemany in Barcelona about this study. He said, "Betty, aspartame can kill 200 million people." It no doubt already has. It's also an abortifacient. Just imagine the millions of babies murdered in their mother's womb. Why isn't this study known all over the world? Dr. Alemany explains the modus operandi of the NutraSweet people. They try to assassinate their character and then research funds are reduced. Here is Dr. Alemany's letter about this written when we tried to get aspartame banned in Hawaii. How does the aspartame industry able to get research funds rejected or reduced. Just read the 8 month investigation of aspartame by United Press International:

How much worse can it get. I haven't scratched the surface. How about causing you to drop dead? Here are reports on this from renowned experts on aspartame:

H. J. Roberts, M.D., author of the 1000 page medical text, Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, wrote this one:

Russell Blaylock, M.D., neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, wrote this one:

Why do we have an epidemic of lupus? Dr. James Bowen explained: "The ability of methyl alcohol/formaldehyde to create antigenicity, especially as combed in aspartame molecules is so great as to cause severe autoimmune reactions to the tissues deformed by formaldehyde polemerization, adduct formation. The immune system turns against the victim's tissues: Lupus."

Why do we have an epidemic of MS:

As you see renowned experts have documented all these diseases triggered by this deadly poison. An additive is suppose to be by law inert, or non-reactive. Aspartame is no additive, another falsehood.

Why are seizures epidemic? Because aspartame is a seizure triggering drug proven by Searle themselves: Recently an informant working for Pfizer called the Epileptic Foundation of Maui and said that when they reformulated Dilantin they added aspartame and they didn't want the people to be deceived because he knew aspartame itself triggers seizures. It also interacts with anti-seizure medication as discussed in Dr Roberts medical text. Now with aspartame actually in anti-seizure medication they don't have a chance. Dilantin is the most used anti-seizure medication. Here is the report: As I was typing this report I just received a call from a man in Ohio who had read the report and mentioned that he too was having problems with the new Dilantin suffering such things as fatigue (aspartame destroys the immune system and triggers chronic fatigue) and vision problems (the free methyl alcohol converts to formaldehyde and formic acid in the retina of the eye and destroys the optic nerve). The Idaho Observer called Pfizer and asked why they reformulated Dilantin. They said they wanted to add some sugar. Isn't this interesting since you swallow Dilantin and no matter what you put in it you wouldn't taste it, and why would there be a need to change it. Such excuses!

Today the aspartame industry has strong relations with all government agencies. I brought some of these damning reports to the European Union in Brussels when they were reviewing aspartame. I knew no matter what I brought them they would eliminate them and use industry propaganda. In fact, I was wired by a documentarian because they knew too. That's exactly what they did. They completely eliminated every document that exposed aspartame and they used industry propaganda even though I brought them reports showing how they fix the studies. Dr. Ralph Walton did research for 60 Minutes showing that 92% of independent scientific peer reviewed research showed the problems aspartame causes and only studies controlled or funded by industry ever said it was safe. Here is the rebuttal to their report which was nothing but industry propaganda: If you read the postscript first you will see that this was reviewed by OLAF, The European Anti-Fraud Agency and they admitted this was written by only one individual and not the committee. Scientific Committee on Food seemed to disappear and then we have the European Food Safety Authority. The EFSA wrote the rebuttal to the Ramazzini Study saying the rats had respiratory disease. If this wasn't a hoot because as Dr. Soffritti pointed out respiratory disease is the dying process. Finally a member confessed that they were pressured by industry to hijack science. However, aspartame was never removed from Europe even with the confession. I've written many times to Food Standards in England, especially about having industry propaganda on their web site. You will see the many letters on under "England". They refuse to answer my questions only saying they will have a new study with anecdotal reports. We've been swamped with those from all over the world for over a quarter of a century. They basically intend to do nothing.

Last July I flew to New Zealand when Abby Cormack, a young actress in Wellington almost died from aspartame in Wrigley's chewing gum. Gum is one of the worst aspartame products because it works like nitroglycerin under the tongue, goes through saliva straight to the brain. Here is Dr. Roberts report on aspartame and absorption: Aspartame has triggered a world epidemic of bipolar because the phenylalanine in aspartame lowers the seizure threshold and depletes serotonin which triggers bipolar, suicidal tendencies, panic attacks, paranoia, insomnia, etc. Abby was about to be diagnosed with bipolar until she happened to get on and saw her symptoms and got off the poison and got well. Here is her story: Here is what the experts say about Abby: Suit was filed against Wrigley's in 2004 because they have been told for years. While they got out of it they were so arrogant and cared so little about the human race they turned right around and put aspartame in all but two of their gums, with full knowledge of what it would do to humans. Now that the information is all over the Internet Wrigley's decided to get rid of their liability and sold to Mars.

Abby Cormack is a very courageous young woman and has wanted to get aspartame out of New Zealand so others would not suffer what she did. I lectured with her and Sue Kedgley from Parliament in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. Abby is a very beautiful, well spoken and courageous young lady and she was able to get a great deal of publicity even before I came to New Zealand. People were listening to her and realizing they were also using aspartame and had the same symptoms, they too got off of it and got in touch. When I arrived there was more publicity through TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. People were getting off aspartame right and left and as someone told me on the street: "I saw Abby, had her same symptoms, got off aspartame and got well. She saved my life." Meanwhile, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority was having a consumer meeting on the issue and refused my admittance. They did not want the facts on aspartame, and I was standing at their door. As publicity continued and people were getting well the NZFSA was actually putting out press releases for the public not to listen to the campaigners, but to get on their web site. Of course, their web site had nothing but propaganda and read like it came right out of the mouth of Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto then turned around and used the NZFSA's propaganda as an advertisement. This is what we have to put up with even in other countries where the manufacturers of aspartame spew propaganda and care little for the health of the public. Just recently a petition to ban aspartame in New Zealand with filed with over 8000 signatures:

If you're interested in what went on in New Zealand the best article written was by an incredible journalist and Mission Possible New Zealand, Chris Wheeler. It's called "Dying For A Diet Coke" :

One of the reasons the hogwash in this article is so disturbing is when I was in New York when Dr. Soffritti gave a lecture on his second study I called CBS and offered to send them all these damning records and the movie, Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World. Mr. Bashia from CBS says he never received any of the packages. This report was put out by CBS and Web MD as you note below. It was written by Martin Downs. Martin F. Downs is a freelance writer who lives in Meriden, N.H. Previously he worked as an editor at CBS He has reported on health and other topics for many online and print publications. He was the only one I could find on the Internet and its difficult to believe he would put out a report on all the products known to be dangerous and play them down. This is absolutely shameful. I wouldn't hire the author of this article to work for the trash department.

Notice he goes into dyes and says the FDA says if they are used properly they are okay. In June the FDA was urged to ban 8 dyes used in foods. You will find the report on They are anything but safe. An old newspaper article shows the FDA has put the issue off 27 times and that was a long time ago. Shameful.

Rather than discuss MSG which is an excitotoxin and incidentally has a synergistic and additive effect with aspartame go to

When you get to aspartame you will see them mention a study by the National Cancer Institute. You will see this discussed above as the bogus study. Turned out to be a multifood form from years ago we call the brownie oatmeal study. Don't miss reading this report.

To the public: What you can do is take this report and your own comments and send it to your congressman. The first weekend after Labor Day is Aspartame Awareness Weekend. It's time that the FDA's doors are closed and an agency be set up that is interested in safe food and drugs. Today the FDA is simply Big Pharma's Washington Branch Office. There is no excuse for keeping a deadly poison on the market for over a quarter of a century when even their own toxicologists reported them to Congress.

What Dr. James Bowen told the FDA 20 years ago applies today: He said: "The only responsible action would be to immediately take aspartame off the market, fully disclose its toxicities, offer full compensation to the injured, public and criminal prosecute anyone who participated in the fraudulent placement of aspartame on the marketplace. That includes those who work so diligently to keep it on the market as well." To CBS and WEB MD you need to apologize to the public for such a report. If you put aspartame into google you will get over 3 million hits and all kinds of reports such as I have given you including original government documents. There are books, medical texts, movies, aspartame detoxification centers, and aspartame toxicity center and enough references that nobody should write such nonsense.

Safe sweeteners are easy to make, they don't have to give the public poison. One sweetener is Just Like Sugar which you can get in Whole Foods or on line at Its made from chicory and orange peel, Vitamin C and Calcium, so its ideal for diabetics. Aspartame on the other hand can actually precipitate diabetes, simulates and aggravates diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy, causes diabetics to go into convulsions, destroys the optic nerve and even interacts with insulin. Dr. Roberts who wrote the medical text is a diabetic specialist. Why are artificial sweeteners used. People are upset over the epidemic of obesity, and its aspartame that is causing it. From Dr. Sandra Cabot, Mission Possible Australia - Aspartame Makes You Fatter: MSG also causes obesity.

Does anyone remember the epidemics we have today before aspartame was put on the market? Of course, not. And they continue to add deadly sweeteners. Another one is Splenda which is a chlorocarbon poison and the complaints just don't stop. The Lethal Science of Splenda: There is a billion dollar suit going on now in California against Splenda. Dr. Bowen also says because of the chemical hypersensitization of aspartame, if someone goes from aspartame to Splenda you will maintain the reactions to aspartame and pickup those from Splenda or Sucralose.

Anyone using aspartame and using drugs, the drugs are going to interact because aspartame damages the mitochondria or the life of the cell, and this causes the interaction according to Dr. Bowen.

Also for aspartame awareness weekend we will put out a flyer for restaurants to get these poisons off restaurant tables. It will be added to web in the near future. For those who want to warn family and friends the Idaho Observer publishes 24 page booklets on aspartame called the Artificially Sweetened Times, You can get them by the hundreds very inexpensively and they will be available until we can get this poison off the market.

WebMD, people look to you for good information. You should be ashamed to put out industry propaganda instead of truth. It's about time your reports include truthful and reliable research. Here is another excellent history of aspartame: Read it and learn. The question why aspartame is controversial could have been answered very simply - because it's a killer!

A new book has just been published by Beatrice Trum Hunter, "The Sweetener Trap & How To Avoid It", dedicated to H. J. Roberts, M.D., with homage. It about the power and politics of sweeteners and their impact on your health. Beatrice Trum Hunter has written nearly thirty books on whole foods, food adulteration and additives. She has received many awards and recognitions for her pioneering work. CBS and WEBMD needs to do some homework. CBS should do an expose on aspartame and give the true facts as I suggested months ago.

Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum.
Founder, Mission Possible World Health International
9270 River Club Parkway
Duluth, Georgia 30097

Aspartame Toxicity Center:

The Truth About 7 Common Food Additives

Aug. 5, 2008

(WebMD) If, like many Americans, you stock your pantry with processed foods, you may worry about how safe food additives really are.

Over the years, the safety of many food additives, from food dyes to trans fats, has come into question. A scare over a food additive may linger in our minds long after researchers find that there's actually no cause for alarm. It can take years, or even decades, to find out the truth, and sometimes the case is never really closed.

To help you figure out what s safe, WebMD took a look at the latest research on seven of the most controversial food additives. Here's what we found:

1. Artificial coloring

What it is Artificial food colors are chemical dyes used to color food and drinks.

Foods that have it Many types of processed foods, beverages, and condiments have artificial coloring in them.

Why it's controversial Artificial food color is suspected of causing increased hyperactivity in children. Also, the dye Yellow No. 5 has been thought to worsen asthma symptoms. (In the 1970s, the FDA famously banned Red Dye No. 2 after some studies found that large doses could cause cancer in rats.)

What the research shows In 2007, a British study published in The Lancet concluded that consuming artificial coloring and preservatives in food can increase hyperactivity in kids. Scientists have been studying the link between food additives and hyperactivity in children for more than 30 years, with mixed results. But the results of the 2007 study compelled the European Food Standards Agency to urge companies to voluntarily remove artificial coloring from food products. The FDA, however, hasn't changed its opinion on the use of FDA-approved artificial food colors, which it considers safe when used properly.

Reports suggesting that the food color Yellow No. 5 might aggravate some people's asthma symptoms date back to the 1950s. But in most controlled studies, Yellow No. 5 has not been shown to have a significant impact on asthma, according to a review of all known studies, which is updated every year.

How you find it on the label The following artificial colors are approved for use in food products and must be listed as ingredients on labels:

2. High fructose corn syrup

What it is High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn. It's sweeter and cheaper than sucrose, which is the form of sugar made from sugar cane.

Foods that have it High fructose corn syrup is a common additive in many kinds of processed foods, not just sweets. Most non-diet soft drinks are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

Why it's controversial Some experts have proposed that people metabolize high fructose corn syrup in a way that raises the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes more than sugar made from sugar cane. Much of the controversy stems from the observation that obesity in the United States and consumption of high fructose corn syrup increased at the same time.

What the research shows "It's just sugar," says Marion Nestle, PhD, a professor of nutrition and public health at New York University. "Biochemically, there's no difference."

The high fructose corn syrups commonly used to sweeten foods and drinks are 55-58% fructose and 42-45% gluose. Sucrose (cane sugar) is a double sugar made of fructose and glucose. Digestion quickly breaks down cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup into fructose and glucose.

"There's a little bit more fructose in high fructose corn syrup, but not a lot," Nestle says. "It doesn't really make any difference. The body can't tell them apart." The American Medical Association recently stated that there is scant evidence to support the idea that high fructose corn syrup is any worse than cane sugar and that consuming too much sugar of either kind is unhealthy.

How you find it on the label High fructose corn syrup can be found in the list of ingredients on a food label.

3. Aspartame

What it is Aspartame is an artificial sweetener known by various brand names, including Equal and NutraSweet.

Foods that have it Aspartame is a commonly used additive for sweetening diet soft drinks.

Why it's controversial Various health concerns have been raised about aspartame since it was introduced in 1981. Most recently, it has been suspected of causing cancer. There have been reports of aspartame causing seizures, headaches, mood disturbances, and reduced mental performance. A study published in 2005 suggested that aspartame could cause leukemia and lymphoma in rats. Another study, published in 1996, argued that an increase in the rate of brain tumors in the United States could be related to consumption of aspartame.

What the research shows Dozens of studies in people and animals have tested for effects possibly related to aspartame. The majority of these studies show that things such as headaches, seizures, and mental and emotional problems didn't occur with aspartame more often than with placebo, even at doses many times higher than anyone would likely ever consume. Large epidemiological studies haven't found a link between aspartame and cancer. A study of about 500,000 people, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, compared those who drank beverages containing aspartame with those who didn't. It found that people who drank increasing amounts of beverages containing aspartame did not have a greater risk for lymphomas, leukemias, or brain cancer. Another study looked at data from a large survey done by the National Institutes of Health. The survey included detailed information on 1,888 cases of leukemia or lymphomas and 315 cases of brain cancer. The researchers found no link between aspartame consumption and those cancers.

"For more than three decades, research has found aspartame to be safe, and today it is approved for use in more than 100 countries," says Robert E. Brackett, PhD, spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a lobbying organization in Washington, D.C. "In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed the safety of aspartame 26 times over a period of 23 years, with the most recent confirmation in April 2007."

How to find it on the label Look for aspartame in the list of ingredients.

4. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

MSG by itself looks like salt or sugar crystals. It is a form of the naturally occurring chemical glutamate. Glutamate doesn't have a flavor of its own, but it enhances other flavors and imparts a savory taste. Tomatoes, soybeans, and seaweed are examples of foods that have a lot of glutamate naturally. Some scientists say that glutamate, also known as "umami," is the fifth essential flavor that the human palate can detect, in addition to sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.

Foods that have it MSG is an additive used in many foods.

Why it's controversial Many people claim to have bad reactions when they eat food seasoned with MSG. In the late 1960s, people started talking about "Chinese restaurant syndrome," allging that food prepared with MSG at Chinese restaurants made them sick.

What the research shows Many studies over the past four decades have tested the idea that some people may be sensitive to MSG. Most scientists today agree that if there is such a thing as a sensitivity or allergy to MSG, it's extremely rare. Studies haven't found any regular pattern of symptoms that could be typical of a reaction to MSG. Also, people are more likely to have symptoms if they're given MSG crystals than if they eat the same amount of MSG mixed with food. "It's very hard for me to believe that there's a problem with it," Nestle says. Nevertheless, some still swear that they have bad reactions to MSG. "People who think they have problems with it should avoid it," she says.

How you find it on the label Some food labels come right out and say that a product contains added MSG. But there are other ingredients that may contain MSG such as "hydrolyzed soy protein" and "autolyzed yeast."

5. Sodium benzoate

What it is Sodium benzoate is a food additive used as a preservative.

Foods that have it Sodium benzoate is used in a variety of processed food products and drinks.

Why it's controversial It's suspected that sodium benzoate, in addition to artificial food color, may increase hyperactivity in some children. Sodium benzoate in soft drinks may also react with added vitamin C to make benzene, a cancer-causing substance.

What the research shows The 2007 Lancet study that linked additives with increased hyperactivity included the preservative sodium benzoate.

In 2006 and 2007, the FDA tested a sample of almost 200 beverages from stores in different states that contained sodium benzoate and vitamin C. Four of the beverages had benzene levels that were above federal safety standards. The drinks were then reformulated by manufacturers and later deemed safe by the FDA. The agency points out, however, that the tests were limited and that it's still not known how much benzene consumers could be exposed to from beverages.

How you find it on the label Sodium benzoate is listed among the ingredients on a product label.

6. Sodium nitrite

Sodium nitrite is an additive used for curing meat.

Foods that have it Sodium nitrite is usually found in preserved meat products, like sausages and canned meats.

Why it's controversial There is a theory that eating a lot of sodium nitrite might cause gastric cancer.

What the research shows There is evidence that sodium nitrite could have been to blame for a lot of the gastric cancers that people had in the past. Until the early 1930s, gastric cancer caused the most deaths of all cancers in the United States. After that, more Americans began to use modern refrigeration and ate less cured meat. Also, producers started to use much less sodium nitrite in the curing process around that time. As these changes took place, deaths from gastric cancer also dropped dramatically.

This theory has been debated for decades, and it is still an open question.

How you find it on the label Sodium nitrite will be listed as an ingredient on the labels of food products.

7. Trans fat

What it is Trans fats are created when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil. Trans fats are food additives in the sense that they're mainly added to the food supply by manufacturing processes, although small amounts of trans fats are present naturally in animal fat.

Foods that have it These "partially hydrogenated oils" are used most often for deep-frying food, and in baked goods. Margarine and vegeable shortening may also be made with partially hydrogenated oil.

Why it's controversial Trans fats are believed to increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

What the research shows Most scientists now agree that eating trans fats can be very harmful to health. Trans fats have been found to lower people's HDL (good) cholesterol and raise LDL (bad) cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 1% of your daily calories from trans fats.

How you find it on the label Product labels are now required to list the amount of trans fat in a serving. Partially hydrogenated oil may also be listed as an ingredient.

But many fried foods and baked goods that are laden with trans fats are served in restaurants, and they don't come with nutrition labels. To avoid trans fats, it's best to limit your overall daily fat intake.

"Usually, when you increase the total amount of fat you consume, you increase the amount of trans fat as well," says Benjamin Caballero, MD, a professor at the Center for Human Nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. If you reduce your total fat intake from 13% of your daily calories (which he says is typical for Americans) to less than 10% (which is recommended), you probably won't exceed the limit on trans fat.

"There are so many controversial studies about ingredients that are a little more emotionally mediated by one study showing it harmful and another study showing it not harmful, and then people say, 'What am I to do?'"

"You're going to get more nutrient bang for your buck to eat less refined foods when you can," says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

By Martin Downs
Reviewed by Louise Chang
(c)2005-2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.