Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award

6-1-2016

Department

Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Rahim Kazerouni

Honors Program Director

Gavin Keulks

Abstract

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener much like high fructose corn syrup but is synthetically made compared to being derived from a naturally occurring compound. Many diet beverages and foods contain this chemical since it is about 200 times sweeter than regular table sugar and contains very few calories. Some people with a hereditary disease cannot metabolize the phenylalanine resulting from the breakdown of the aspartame. This, and potential health risks, have caused widespread controversy regarding the FDA approval of aspartame. I have used High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to quantify the amount of aspartame present in Diet Coke and Diet Pepper. I investigated how elevated temperatures can cause aspartame to become unstable and breakdown into potentially toxic chemicals. These findings will promote the labeling of actual amounts present in each drink, similar to how caffeine is labeled.

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