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Get diet drinks out of our schools!

Joint media release Safe Food Campaign and Soil & Health Association

16 April 2008

Get diet drinks out of our schools!

A petition requesting the removal of all products containing aspartame and other artificial sweeteners from schools will be presented to Green MP Sue Kedgley at Parliament on Thursday 17 April at 12.15pm.  Free Phoenixdrinks without aspartame will be distributed at the petition presentation on the parliamentary forecourt.  Abby Cormack, previously poisoned with aspartame products, will run 951 metres with a diet drink baton, to represent 951, the additive code number of aspartame, the artificial sweetener also labelled 'phenylalanine', Equal and Nutrasweet.

The almost 8,000 signature petition, organised by the Safe Food Campaign and supported by the Soil & Health Association of NZ, also asks for warning labels on all aspartame products, and a programme to raise awareness of aspartame's toxicity within the medical profession.

"Following agreement with Government, beverage manufacturers are taking sugar sweetened fizzy drinks out of secondary schools, but unfortunately the manufacturers are replacing them with the more dangerous aspartame-containing drinks," said Soil & Health Association spokesperson Steffan Browning.   "The isolated phenylalanine in aspartame has been shown to deplete serotonin levels and lower the seizure threshold.  This can trigger mood swings, suicidal tendencies and behavioural problems – exactly the sort of problems we want to lessen in our young people, not increase."

"The alarming increase of obesity and type II diabetes can obviously be attributed to several factors, but several American medical experts are convinced that increasing the consumption of aspartame will accentuate these problems, maintained Alison White, Co-convenor of the Safe Food Campaign. "Recent research has linked artificial sweeteners with carbohydrate cravings.  As well, intake of aspartame worsens symptoms of diabetics and interacts with insulin."   

"Fizzy drinks sweetened with aspartame not only lack nutrients, but also contain a substance that is linked to undesirable effects on health.  It is irresponsible to expose our young people even more to such a questionable substance," concluded Ms White.

The Safe Food Campaign offers consumers information so they can make a more informed choice when buying food.  Soil & Health has a motto of Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy People, and promotes a diet free from synthetic additives.

Aspartame (951, Equal, Nutrasweet, 'phenylalanine') is an artificial sweetener found in over 6000 sugar free and diet products, including diet drinks, chewing gum, dietary supplements, sports drinks and medications.


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