In 1992 or so I discovered the hard way that I’m allergic to almost every artificial sweetener except sucralose and saccharine. A sip or two of a soda sweetened with aspartame is enough to make my lips go numb and, if I don’t promptly stuff myself to the eyebrows with migraine medication, within a few minutes I’ll have flashing blue lights in my peripheral vision, sound and light sensitivity, and a headache you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Acesulfame potassium skips the numb lips and enhances the blue flashes. It’s really neat!
I have gotten into the habit of reading labels pretty carefully. Anything with a label on it that says “Phenylketonurics: Contains phenylalanine.” gets dropped like it was hot (for those not in the know one of the metabolites of aspartame is a compound called phenylalanine which causes significant problems to those people who are subject to phenylketonuria). If a package says “DIET” I don’t come near it. If it reads “NATURALLY AND ARTIFICALLY SWEETENED” I don’t come near it. If it reads “LOW CALORIE” I don’t come near it.
So when I recently drank part of a bottle of Teddy’s Old Fashioned Root Beer and it didn’t have any of those labels on it, I figured I was okay.
I can understand the urge to put out a product that is partially sweetened with no-calorie sweeteners. It’s a good product and it’s lower in calories than you’d expect. Win-win situation, right?
And yes, I accept the fact that I bear some responsibility here. With my sensitivities, and especially after having been burned by Wrigley’s gum while on a trip to Scotland, you think I’d be in the habit of reading the whole label of anything I haven’t tried before. I am in the habit of doing do and I do generally read the whole label. In this case though it wasn’t I that picked up the bottle of Teddy’s. My husband offered to share his soda with me and since it wasn’t labeled as “diet” “low calorie” or “artificially sweetened” he figured it was safe for me to drink.
I submit that any product which has high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient should be more clearly labeled if it also includes artificial sweeteners. I don’t pretend to know a lot about people, but I’m pretty confident in saying that I think someone who is concerned enough about their calorie intake to seek out something that is artificially sweetened isn’t going to be real enthusiastic about a product that is loaded with high fructose corn syrup. And those of us who are on the natural sweetener bandwagon are going to be intensely grateful to not have to worry about gotchas in our sodas.
It was a good root beer though.