The Coca-Cola company has started to run advisements defending its use of the artificial sweetener aspartame in its diet drinks, according to news reports.
A print ad appeared today in issues of USA Today in the Atlanta area that highlighted the safety of aspartame, which is sold under several brand names, including Equal and NutraSweet.
The ad states: "Time and again, these low- and no-calorie sweeteners have shown to be safe, high-quality alternatives to sugar," according to the Associated Press.
The ad comes at a time when sales of diet sodas are falling, the AP says.
The issue of whether artificial sweeteners pose health risks is controversial. Many of the studies showing risks have been done in animals, and it's not known whether the same effects would be seen in humans.
The nonprofit watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends people avoid aspartame. "Aspartame’s reputation isn’t worth rehabilitating with this propaganda campaign," CSPI said in a statement.
However, the CSPI says that it considers drinking diet soda, which often contains artificial sweeteners, to be safer than drinking regular soda, which increases the risk of obesity. "Everyone would be better off drinking water or seltzer water instead," CSPI says.