Artificial sweeteners have been controversial for decades. Several studies have attacked sweeteners, especially aspartame used in diet sodas.
In June, St. Louis-based Panera Bread Co. announced it will eliminate artificial sweeteners, coloring and preservatives from its foods by 2016. Panera nutrition manager Katie Bengston said “taste is the driving factor.”
Bengston said Panera is evaluating everything, including the sodas it sells.
The Missouri Department of Economic Development is defending its role in the Mamtek controversy, in which the town of Moberly issued $39 million in bonds to build an artificial sweetener plant which never opened.
DED Director David Kerr told the House Interim Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability that his agency carefully reviewed Los Angeles-based Mamtek’s request for state incentives, which were not issued – but he also said that it’s not DED’s role to double-check every claim made by every company seeking tax credits.
Two days of hearings are underway at the Missouri Capitol to explore why an artificial sweetener facility in Moberly never opened and why the small town’s bond rating took a hit.
The House Interim Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability is focusing on conflicting documents over the trustworthiness of the company Mamtek. Corey Mehaffy heads the Moberly Area Economic Development Corporation. He testified that the state Department of Economic Development never shared emails with the city revealing that a DED official could not verify whether Mamtek had a functioning plant in China.
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