Its chemical structure is very similar to another product developed by Monsanto Aspartame. Neotame also consists of aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and a methyl esther, but requires lower amounts to attain the same sweetness as Aspartame.
According to Monsantos Communications Director, Nancy Nevin,
“Compositionally, it begins with ASPARTAME, but a simple enhancement to the dipeptide base of aspartame uniquely and marketedly changes its sweetness. It is 40 times sweeter than ASPARTAME”.
However, it is felt by some that Neotame is even more toxic than Aspartame. Since the patent on Aspartame expired some time ago, speculation is that Monsanto had to find a replacement. Another spokesperson for Monsanto, Phil Angell, summed up the general attitude of the company when he told the New York Times,
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”
Neuroscientists have found that aspartic acid and glutamic acid attach to the same receptors in the brain, causing identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, and act in an addictive fashion.
People who are sensitive MSG (monosodium glutamate), which is processed free glutamic acid, often experience similar reactions to Aspartame, and vice versa to Neotame. Therefore, those people who currently react to MSG and / or Aspartame should expect similar reactions to Neotame.
Nevertheless, despite the sordid history of Aspartame and its similarity to Neotame, the FDA still pronouced Neotame safe for human consumption.
This page was updated in December 2005.