Monday, 11 August 2008

Rebiana from Stevia is Coke's New Sweetener

Stevia plant by Flickr use Hebam3000 under GPL
Something big is going on if Coke replaces a key ingredient, huh? Diet Coke is now going to be sweetened with an extract from the Stevia plant.

I read up a little on the Diet Coke sweetener history (courtesy of Wikipedia) and learned that Coke had started using Nutrasweet in 1983 but used to blend it with saccharin to reduce cost. Apparently, saccharin is still used in Diet Coke in drink fountains to make it last longer.

Coca-Cola Light outside of the US may contain different sweeteners (and hence does indeed taste different, as Americans living abroad like to complain) such as cyclamates, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium. I'd rather not know what those things are.

In my Brandeis years I went through a Diet Coke binge period - used to buy 1.5l bottles on sale for $0.79 (and sometimes even cheaper) at the Waltham Shaw's. I am glad to say I have gotten over this but nonetheless, I look forward to taste-testing the new Stevia-sweetened Coke.

By the way, there is a political angle to the story: stevia supporters say there is an Aspartame lobby, which had worked hard to delay FDA approval of stevia's safety.