I was listening to an interview on Radio 4’s Today show about how – as part of a plan to try and reduce the average Brit’s sugar intake, the major drink suppliers had already cut down on sugar in fizzy drinks by 5%, and were being pushed to do more.
“Fine”, I thought, “Maybe this will result in some more interesting drinks as well, instead of the usual fizzy syrup.”
Talk about being naive!
By coincidence, today I was out looking for a nice lemonade, to go with my newly acquired bottle of Pimms. It was then I saw how the 5% reduction had been achieved. Rather than just reducing the sugar, they reduced the sugar and added a cocktail of artificial sweeteners to the ingredients. That’s right – for all the major brands I examined, including Schweppes, R. Whites, and Tesco’s own brand, the non-diet lemonade contained, sugar, aspartame and either saccharine or sucralose.
Which means if, like me, you are able to taste artificial sweeteners and detest that taste; this change has removed all choice from the main-brand fizzy drinks. It’s no longer sufficient to avoid diet drinks, because these sweeteners are now in everything.
There are still some alternatives in non-main brand drinks. In the end I found a bottle of freshness called Qcumber, which as the name suggests is a mix of cucumber juice and spring water. No sweeteners, no flavourings, no added sugar, just a bit of added fizz.
And it goes great with Pimms.