After eggs beef, GM foods and Coca-Cola, last week it was the turn
of diet sweeteners to cause a food scare.
The announcement that further research was to be conducted into a
possible link between aspartame (Nutrasweet) and brain cancer was picked
up by the tabloids and turned into ’shock’ headlines - ’Scientists probe
cancer link to diet sweeteners’ (the Mirror, 4/8/99) - while the Daily
Record warned Nutrasweet lurks in ’every cupboard, fridge and medicine
Tabloid reporting was laden with sensationalism, as journalists pointed
out that NutraSweet was owned by Monsanto. Nutrasweet launched a
powerful counter-offensive, downplaying the need for further research,
and highlighting ’aspartame’s safety in more than 200 objective
scientific studies’ (London freesheet Metro, 4/8/99).
Rapid rebuttal from Nutrasweet ensured positive messages appeared in
almost every article, and enabled it to emerge embattled, but not
defeated, by the media flurry, which lasted just two days.
Evaluation supplied by Echo Research. Cuttings supplied by Broadcast
Monitoring Company. This article can also be found at