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Friday, September 26, 2014



Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources
"NutraSweet Health and Safety Concerns"
November 3, 1987


My name is Mary Nash Stoddard. I live in Dallas, Texas and I am founder of the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network. Since going public with my story about the drastic reaction I had to aspartame in 1985-86, (see article Dallas Times Herald, 7/27/87), I have had an opportunity to reach thousands of people via TV interviews, guest appearances on radio talk shows, and personal experiences on behalf of the national Aspartame Consumer Safety Network. I have supported my endeavors strictly with my own limited private funds, because of my strong personal commitment.

One of my main concerns is that the number of people who are being affected by this chemical are not getting their reactions reported and officially tallied by the proper government agency, the Food and Drug Administration. Callers are being mislead or misinformed by individuals in the Regional FDA office in Dallas/Fort Worth. For example:

Debbie B. - Diagnosed this year with a brain tumor. Drank 8-10 cans of Diet Coke daily. She called the Dallas FDA. They told her NutraSweet could not possibly be her problem, although she believes it is.

Joye J. - Told by FDA representative that NutraSweet was very safe. She had a bad reaction to it and knew better.

Larry Taylor, CRNA - Anesthetist who has had seizures related to aspartame use. FDA in Dallas gave him the National AIDS Hotline number to call for more information. (see separate testimony transcript)

Gail F. - Experienced a drastic aspartame reaction. When she called the Dallas FDA in October, 1987, they told her it was safe and that Mary Stoddard was working for the Sugar Lobby! (a provable lie!)

Mary Nash Stoddard - My own personal experiences with the FDA are a virtual horror story. My first call to their Dallas office put me in touch with a Mrs. Hazel Wallace, their Consumer Affairs Officer. Her official line was that a very few people were 'sensitive' to aspartame, similarly to people who are 'allergic' to shellfish, etc. However, Wallace went on to relate to me the story of her own college-age daughter, who drank lots of Diet Coke and two years was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The daughter had two surgeries for it, after blacking out, having seizures, etc. This once-aspiring concert pianist is left with one hand that is useless and draws up to her shoulder at off times. The daughter was dieting heavily, using aspartame, to fit into her wedding dress. Off the record, she thought aspartame might be responsible for her medical problems. Mrs. Wallace promised to set up a public meeting between our group (ACSN) and the Regional FDA Director this fall. So far, nothing has come of that,  After the article was published in the Dallas Times Herald newspaper, July 27, 1987, I was invited to do a Dallas radio talk show, with Host David Gold and another guest, Dallas FDA Regional Director, D. Helton. During the course of that popular show, with thousands of listeners that day, FDA Director Helton lost his composure, calling me a 'liar' On the Air, accusing me of making serious libelous statements when I said, 'Arthur Hull Hays, Jr. went to work for Burson Marsteller, the NutraSweet public relations firm, mere months after approving aspartame for aqueous solution, in 1983.' This is a matter of public record, which Helton flatly denied.

In August of 1987, I decided, out of curiosity, to call the Dallas Regional FDA Office, to see what they were telling people at that time. Ramona Farchee told me 'don't worry''NutraSweet is perfectly safe - like bananas and milk - consisting of two amino acids, which are the Building Blocks of Life.' She could not remember getting more than a 'few' complaints in all her years with the FDA. She 'drinks it herself' and almost sounded like the TV commercial for the NutraSweet products.

My concern is that most individuals would never pursue registering a complaint after this sort of treatment during a call to the FDA office. 

How many patients with reactions are going to associate their reaction to something our government (FDA) has approved. Doctors, for the most part, certainly do not make the connection, so how then, could the patient? Most often it occurs from an accidental re-exposure to aspartame, and a distinct return of the symptoms, as happened in my case. 

Respectfully yours,
Mary Nash Stoddard
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network
Dallas Texas 75229
214-352-4268 ( New Number: 214-387-4001)

Senate Hearing 100-567, pg. 428-429

"NutraSweet - Health and Safety Concerns"
Hearing before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate - One Hundredth Congress - First Session on: Examining The Health and Safety Concerns of NutraSweet (Aspartame). November 3, 1987

Printed for the use of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources
U.S. Government Printing Office - Washington: 1988 83-178
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402

Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts, Chairman

Clairborne Pell, Rhode Island
Howard M. Metzenbaum, Ohio
Spark M. Matsunaga, Hawaii
Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut
Paul Simon, Illinois
Tom Harkin, Iowa
Brock Adams, Washington
Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland
Orrin G. Hatch, Utah
Robert T. Stafford, Vermont
Dan Quayle, Indiana
Strom Thurmond, South Carolina
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., Connecticut
Thad Cochran, Mississippi
Gordon J. Humphrey, New Hampshire