Controversies of Pepsi

The Pepsi – Cola merger which took place in 1965 formed PepsiCo, along with Frito Lay Inc. Since then the company has expanded its business and introduced a wide range of F&B products in the market. The company also acquired Tropicana Products and Quaker Oats Company in 1998 and 2001 respectively.  Started as “Brad’s Drink” back in 1893 by Caleb Bradham, Pepsi today has become a multinational snack, food and beverage industry. There were several other brands which gave tried to give a cutting edge competition, but Pepsi was everyone’s first choice. As the popularity grew, the company also got stuck into various controversies. The controversies of Pepsi arose due to many factors, especially the controversial sweetener which was used in its diet drinks.

From additives to water usage, the beverage had several controversies due to which the company to face loss and fall in the market.  The controversies of Pepsi led to company’s falling sales in the market and thus it finally had announced to remove the sweetener from its drinks. This controversial sweetener was Aspartame which was used in Diet Pepsi drinks. This is an artificial sweetener which is around 200 times sweeter than sugar.
Controversies of Pepsi

Aspartame: The reason behind Controversies of Pepsi
Controversies of Pepsi

This is an artificial sweetener. It is around 200 times sweeter than sugar. This is primarily used in Diet Pepsi in place of sugar. This lowers the calories in the beverage. Its amount is 118mg per 8 ounce serving of Diet Coke. There are rumours that aspartame causes cancer and other serious health problems.
Controversies of Pepsi

Following is an excerpt from (

Expert agencies in the United States and elsewhere that have evaluated aspartame have found it safe for use.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the use of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners in the United States. In 2007, the FDA stated:

Considering results from the large number of studies on aspartame’s safety, including five previously conducted negative chronic carcinogenicity studies, a recently reported large epidemiology study with negative associations between the use of aspartame and the occurrence of tumors, and negative findings from a series of three transgenic mouse assays, FDA finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion that aspartame is safe as a general purpose sweetener in food.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assesses the safety of sweeteners such as aspartame in the European Union. According to a 2009 report from its Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food:

Overall, the Panel concluded, on the basis of all the evidence currently available… that there is no indication of any genotoxic or carcinogenic potential of aspartame and that there is no reason to revise the previously established ADI for aspartame of 40 mg/kg [body weight].

Though research into a possible link between aspartame and cancer continues, these agencies agree that studies done so far have not found such a link.

Pepsi has announced that sooner they will replace aspartame with sucralose.

Controversies of Pepsi: Reintroducing Aspartame

The company announced that it would reintroduce aspartame in its diet drinks, after one year of the controversies of Pepsi. In April 2015, the company removed aspartame from its drinks, in response to the consumer demand which was a general health concern. However, this artificial sweetener which is highly concentrated is used in several beverages and diet food as a substitute for lower calorie. According to an article published in by Mike Esterl on June 27, 2016,

“PepsiCo Inc. spent two years surveying consumers, conducting taste tests and tinkering with soft drink recipes in order to fix Diet Pepsi, only to find it has completely misread what its customers wanted.”

According to the article,

“Less than a year after launching its new Diet Pepsi with sucralose – and abandoning the controversial sweetener aspartame – PepsiCo has made an about – face. On Monday, after plummeting sales and howls of protest from the diet soda’s devotees, the company announced it will bring back Diet Pepsi with aspartame in September.


Watch this video by CBS This Morning talking about Pepsi bringing back aspartame to diet sodas

Controversies of Pepsi due to Water Usage

There were controversies of Pepsi due to the usage of water. Such controversies of Pepsi were generally raised in India during 2000s. The controversies were due to impact on consumption of water in India where water shortage remains perennial concerns. Thus, the company started a campaign in order to reach positive water balance by 2009. In other countries as well controversies of Pepsi took place due to water shortages such as in US especially in regions having water shortages such as Atlanta, Georgia. Responding to such issues, the company tied up with NPOs such as and Earth Institute. The company started to clean its Gatorade bottles using purified air, replacing water. In UK as well, Walkers’, the company’s snacks brand, reduced the water consumption by 45% significantly during 2001 and 2008.

Though the controversies of Pepsi imposed several risks to company’s goodwill, sales and marketing, PepsiCo took smart moves and tried its best to get back to the track. It also lost loyal customers due to its policies but the company still managed to lead market. Even today, the company is still leading the F&B market is a giant in its domain.

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