Really? Yet another sugar-free version of the famous multimillion dollar Coca Cola brand? This is attempt No 4 at a no-sugar variety – following Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and the sugar-reduced-but-still-sweetened, Coke Life.
So the multimillion dollar question is - why release another fizzy drink containing no sugar? What are the differences? Does this newest one really taste THAT much better? We did a blind mini taste-test of Zero, Diet and this new No Sugar to find out.
The company claims Coke No Sugar is their best tasting, sugar-free, Coke to date. It’s taken five years to develop the formula and get it just right. They claim No Sugar has a new and improved formula, but I took part in the blind test and couldn’t tell the difference.
Having said that, I’m not, and have never been, a big Coke drinker. So I called in three regular Coke-drinking friends to help tease out the differences that my untrained tastebuds could supposedly not detect.
Hardly at all. Here are the ingredients in Coca Cola No Sugar:
|Carbonated Water, Colour (150d), Food Acids (338, 331), Sweeteners (951, 950), Flavour, Caffeine.
Contains caffeine. Contains Phenylalanine.
Here's what those additive code numbers mean:
This is Caramel IV and is natural, not artificial, and a dark-brownish colour. It is the most widely used colouring in the world and is made by heating up carbohydrates or sugars in a process called caramelisation. For the past 40 years, all caramel safety studies have shown no health threat to humans and it meets rigorous food safety standards around the world.
This is the famous phosphoric acid which is part of the iconic flavouring of Coke. It’s big downside is that it creates an acidic environment which sets the scene for dental erosion by bathing your teeth in an highly-acidic solution. Not good.
Sodium citrate is a common food acid and is used in tomato juice and many fruit and veg products. Apart from its acidity, it’s not harmful.
Aspartame is a calorie-free sweetener.
Acesulphame potassium (or Ace-K) is another calorie-free sweetener.
No-one knows what is in the flavour or flavours - which is the same as any other processed products. CC say this optimisation of the flavours is a key difference but who knows?
Looking at the composition of the drinks, No Sugar and Diet contain only slight differences, but the ingredients of No Sugar and Zero are identical – except maybe the flavours which aren’t specified.
Coke No Sugar, Coke Zero and Diet Coke are all sweetened with aspartame and acesulphame potassium. These two are common sweeteners used in place of sugar to create foods with low kilojoules or no sugar.
Yes there’s been lots of angry internet sites and anti-sweetener sentiment but several rounds of investigation by the USFDA, the EFSA and by our FSANZ have failed to find enough evidence to get rid of them. So in the usual smallish quantities we consume, they’re not considered a huge health problem.
Having said that, there doesn’t seem to be great advantages to sweeteners for dieters so we don’t recommend them for weight loss.
Coke have claimed they’re phasing out Coke Zero in favour of this new No Sugar. Our testers couldn’t find any difference between the two varieties, so perhaps the change may not be particularly noticeable.
Of course, we here recommend everyday drinks like water or milk for children, but for the occasional fizzy drink or when you’re out, this No Sugar tastes much better than regular Coke, which is loaded with sugar and kilojoules/Calories.
Thank you to Caitlin Delaney, student dietitian, for organising the taste-test and background research. We wish to thank Julie, Patrick and Jasmine for taking part so nicely in the taste testing.