There’s Water at the Bottom of the Ocean

Brian posted an article about Splenda. Not Scout’s bike Splenda, but the chemical sweetener in the yellow packets. The website he referenced cites a couple of sources, including a Sugar Industry Sponsored Web Site.

As I wrote on Brian’s bog, when I read these things on the web, one of my first questions is about the motivation of the entity publishing the information.

In this case, TAS comes out and says it’s published by the Sugar Industry, a group that has an obvious and direct financial interest in Splenda’s downfall. Normally it’s not as obvious who’s funding the “research.” Regardless, any reading of the site should be done with your bullshit shields on maximum alert.

This site is rife with marketing tricks and psychology. For example, consider this nugget from the FAQs:

Is the chlorine in Splenda any different than the chlorine used in swimming pools?
No. The same atoms of chlorine that are used in products to disinfect swimming pools are also found in Splenda.

Guess what, ordinary table salt has the same atoms of chlorine that are used in products to disinfect swimming pools. Oh no — it’s a conspiracy by the Brotherhood of Chlorinated Illuminati! The airport shoe terrorists are smuggling sodium chloride in ordinary, table-top dispensers! And it’s in our seawater!


The objection I have with these sources is that they pretend to have your best interests in mind, but in fact are part of a grand marketing scheme, employing numerous techniques to create fear, uncertainty and doubt about their opponent’s product, while at the same time implying their own product is fine.
According to the NY Times:

Equal has a powerful if unlikely ally in its battle against Splenda: the Sugar Association, a trade and lobbying group for the $10 billion American natural sugar industry. The association has separately sued Splenda’s makers over its claims to be related to sugar. […]
Last year, [Splenda] had sales of $212 million, dwarfing Equal’s sales of $49 million.

The truth is consuming mass quantities of Splenda, sugar, table salt, chlorinated pool chemicals, entire swimming pools, or Scout’s bike is certainly not healthy.

For a sample analysis of how public relations and marketing are used to mold public opinion, read Trust Us, We’re Experts and Toxic Sludge is Good for You! by
Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber. (More info: here, or you can find it at the library.)
The next time you see an ad by the “Concerned Citizens for the Preservation of Yatta Yatta,” you’ll be more inclined to question who benefits financially from Yatta Yatta, perhaps concluding that they are actually the entire group of “Concerned Citizens.” Just keep this in mind during the next election.

11 thoughts on “There’s Water at the Bottom of the Ocean”

  1. Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
    Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

    In addition to David Byrne and his friends, I also love Splenda, and I don’t care if they make it out of belladonna and beetle dung.

  2. Scout, as always, you rule!

    Lisa – I wouldn’t use anything but sugar in cooking. If I sweeten my iced tea, I prefer saccharine because it dissolves well. I’m a big Fresca drinker at work, and that has aspartame (“Nutrasweet”). I generally try to avoid corn syrup.

    The shooting match between Splenda and Nutrasweet is because both have big market shares. It’s funny to hear Nutrasweet talk because they’ve been exceptionally iron-fisted with their patent enforcement. Reason: it’s a lotta money.

  3. I prefer Nutrasweet/Equal, only because I want my sugar alternative to taste not so much like sugar. 🙂

  4. While at times I try to cut down on the number of cans of cola I drink and I’m disappointed Jolt Cola switched from sugar to high fructose corn syrup like the other cola manufacturers, I can’t stand “Nutrasweet” (possibly also known as aspartame) and can detect the taste with just a sip. Regarding Splenda (aka Sucralose), it is not quite as easy to notice (especially if you don’t read the label as manufacturers that use sucralose rather than the name brand product “Splenda” bury it in the ingredients list). It took me a while to finally notice that the Nestle Milkshake products I used to love had that familiar “off” taste with the chocolate – my sign that “Splenda” / sucralose is likely in the product. Quickly reading the list of ingredients and there it was – sucralose. Therefore, it is yet another product I will avoid / boycott. I rather deal with high fructose corn syrup and sugar than artificial sweeteners (designed mainly for diabetes patients).

  5. Since each side in the “sweetener war” has their “chosen favorite” and reasons why they stand behind it, this is likely yet another “Shimano vs. Campy” debate 😉

  6. Regarding salt, I have containers of salt sitting in my kitchen cabinet gathering dust as I don’t use the stuff when I’m cooking. If the food ends up “salty” it’s because whatever was added (like gumbo mix or sausage) already contained the stuff. Having had “high” blood pressure for several months (possibly due to lack of time on the bike but mainly due to eating “fast food” day after day – something I can’t do these days since I work graveyard shift currently – though I’d love to find a job on day shift somewhere).

  7. I know exactly what you mean! I detest artificial sweeteners because I can taste the difference so easily and its unbearable but to go on a boycott based on the sugar industry’s pseudo-science is silly.

  8. I have to agree with the artificial sweetner thing: I can always taste it and I don’t like it.

    I’m not going to say any one product is better than another but I prefer the real stuff and have, indeed, switched to raw sugar for all my non-baking needs (which admittedly extend only to a cup of decaf every now and then and a regularly occuring cup of tea every day).

    I just think we’d all be better off if we put less man-made crap into our bodies. Yes, I know: sugar is refined but I defy anyone to find me a field full of aspartame 😉

    PS: I’m actually working my way through my first bike. The tires aren’t bad if you use a lot of hot sauce.

  9. Brenda Helverson

    We used nothing but Equal in our iced tea until Costco started carrying Splenda. Some years ago I stopped using Equal in anything hot because it appeared that it was affecting my mood – urban legend or not. I have not tried Spenda in hot things and still only use sugar for cooking.

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