Friday, March 9, 2007

Insanity Report 3.08

A periodic report on the weird, the bad and the downright ugly in our food industry.

Today: The "Healthy" Soft Drink!

In the food industry's determined march toward more "functional foods," and in light of the role of villain the soft drink industry is playing in debates over the "obesity crisis," soft drink makers are fighting back after facing the first decline in sales in their long history. Said decline has apparently been caused by the demonization of sugar, fear of aspartame and an increased consumer interest in health.

Now, I have to 'fess up here. I know they're bad for me, but I drink diet soft drinks. Shame on me, but there you go. And I'll probably keep drinking them.

That being said, however, the latest movements by both Coke and Pepsi to release "healthy" soft drinks strikes me as pretty absurd. "Healthy" by whose standards? These will not be marketed as soft drinks--they're the villain, remember?--but as "sparkling beverages," according to this story in The New York Times.

Coke is planning to roll out Diet Coke Plus this spring. Its gimmick is that it's fortified with niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium and zinc.

In the fall, Pepsi will roll out Tava, which will be "lightly carbonated," caffeine free and offered in "exotic flavors" containing vitamins B3, B6 and E, plus chromium. The flavors are Brazilian Samba, Caribbean Calypso, Mediterranean Muse and Malaysian Satori. Whatever the heck those are.

Sucralose (Splenda) or a combination of sucralose and Ace-K seem to be the artificial sweeteners of choice but I'm still checking on that.

So, what'cha think? If you're going to drink diet soda anyway, will you try the new "enhanced sparkling beverages?"

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