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Aspartame is made from bacteria feces, patent confirms

(Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images) Your next diet soda may not taste so sweet. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

What makes diet sodas taste sweet without all the sugar? The simple answer is artificial sweetener, but a patenthas confirmed what the commonly used sugar substitute aspartame is really made of: the feces of genetically modified E. coli bacteria.

According to the patent, which is available for the public to read online, genetically modified E. coli are cultivated in tanks and fed so that they can defecate the proteins that contain the aspartic acid-phenylalanine amino acid segment used to make aspartame. The proteins are then collected and treated in a process called methylation to produce the sweetener.

The patent was first filed in 1981, but this is the first time it has been made publicly accessible.

 
 
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