Thursday, June 11, 2009

When Is Diet Soda Not Diet?

When you hear the term "Diet" in regards to beverages, you assume the drink is going to be sugar free. That is the case for virtually every Diet drink from Diet Pepsi to Diet Green Tea. However, I found out recently that some companies (or at least the Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group) have been using the word "Diet" to simply mean "lower-calorie."

My sister purchased some Diet Crush Orange the other day for our mom. Our mother is a Type I diabetic and she likes orange pop, so it seemed like a no-brainer. Then, when I tried a can of it, I looked at the nutrition facts and discovered that this drink wasn't sugarfree. The second ingredient after carbonated water is the ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup.

One can of "Diet" Orange Crush has 25 calories and six grams of carbohydrates. To be fair, this is a lot lower than regular Crush but it is certainly misleading. Why? Well, maybe because nearly every other Diet beverage has 5 calories or less and almost all of them do not have or sugar in them.

A big trend in drinks is to mix regular and sugarfree sweeteners. However, most companies do not call drinks with this mix "Diet." Vitamin Water has been touting its Vitamin Water 10 as having 10 calories per serving. It mixes crystalline fructose with the new natural sugar-free sweetener Truvia. However, nowhere in its advertising does the word "diet" appear.

The same can also be said for Propel, which mixes HCFS, simple syrup (sucrose syrup) and artificial sweeteners. A bottle of Propel usually has about 30 calories but, again, it is never described as "diet."

If any word is used to describe the mix of regular and sugarfree sweeteners it is "Light." That's what Minute Maid uses to describe its Lemonade with fewer calories. Again, the word "diet" isn't used.

The use of the word "Diet" on Diet Crush Orange may not seem like a big thing, but it's troubling for those who want (or need) to avoid sugar/HFCS-sweetened products. The Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group should seriously consider either changing the name of their product to remove "Diet" or making it clear on their packaging that this product is not sugarfree.

1 comment:

  1. Chris1:40 PM

    T be fair most sugar free pops are now labelled as Sugar free. While most diet pops are usually sugar free the only real requirement for labelling something diet or low fat is that it must have a lower calorie/fat profile than the original product.