More Stevia controversy.
This time, it revolves around two soft drink giants -- Coca Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. -- desperate to gain back customers after experiencing tumbling sales this year.
"Coca-Cola Co. will begin selling products made with [the] new zero-calorie sweetener despite no official nod from [the Food & Drug Administration], but rival PepsiCo Inc. said Monday it won't follow suit," reports today's San Francisco Chronicle.
Pepsi actually has two Stevia-sweetened drinks on deck, but is waiting to launch them until the sweetener receives a "generally recognized as safe" moniker from the FDA.
"A no-calorie, all-natural sweetener is a huge opportunity for the beverage industry," Morgan Stanley spokesperson Bill Pecoriello said at today's Beverage Digest conference.
A huge opportunity to trick consumers into thinking these beverages are "healthy" and perhaps even a viable solution to the obesity problem?
My concern is that among all this Stevia joy, the main problem is being overlooked: soda -- diet or not -- is usually consumed with unhealthy foods.
Most people usually pair it up with chips, pizza, fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, and other high-calorie fare.
Complementing four slices of pepperoni pizza with a Stevia-based, rather than Splenda-based, soda isn't exactly that great of an improvement.
And although stevia is the least Frankenstein-ish of non-caloric sweeteners, all sodas contain phosphoric acid, which isn't something you want to consume on a daily basis.