When I read that Coca Cola is helping Six Flags place recycling bins in their parks or that the soft drink company is going to start to use bottles partly derived from plants, I'm glad the efforts are being made, but I can only get so excited. Some of their production practices may be getting a little greener, but many of their products are still very problematic.
Take their newest product – a fizzy milk drink called Vio. Fox News reports that the drink “contains skim milk mixed with sparkling water, flavored with fruit and sweetened with cane sugar.”
This drink, which will be sold in 8 oz aluminum bottles, will not curdle when unrefrigerated and will sell for about $2.50 a bottle.
It comes in four "natural" flavors — peach mango, berry, citrus and tropical colada — and could even be marketed as a healthy nutritional drink. But it has 26 grams of sugar a bottle, on a par with other non-diet Coca-Cola products, and 1.5 grams of fat.
The fact that this might be marketed as healthy and nutritional is mind-boggling, isn’t it? The NC Buy website reports (under their weird news category) that Coca Cola “
touts Vio as a healthy refreshment citing its natural ingredients and calcium and vitamin C.”
The USDA doesn’t seem inclined to clearly define or regulate the word natural as it pertains to food. Any product’s “natural” claims are murky at best. I was unable to find a list of ingredients for Vio anywhere online. However, I think there must be more than just skim milk, sparkling water, fruit flavor and cane sugar in the drink. None of those ingredients contain fat, yet the product contains 1.5 grams of fat.
My biggest concern with this product is the potential for marketers to fly the healthy flag. There has been a recent trend in marketing to claim that products with real cane sugar are healthy. Because many people see sugar as slightly more healthy than its evil twin, high-fructose corn syrup, marketers have chosen to try to convince us it's healthy.
But do the ingredients milk, fruit flavors, and real sugar necessarily equal healthy and nutritious? I’m reminded of the old Bill Cosby “Dad is great
” routine. He’s in charge of breakfast. The kids want chocolate cake for breakfast. He begins to think of the ingredients in chocolate cake – eggs and milk and wheat. His mind says “That’s nutrition!” He makes chocolate cake.
The kids begin to chant, “Dad is great. Gives us the chocolate cake” until his wife comes into the kitchen and has a conniption and fire from her eye sockets burns his stomach. The kids, of course, turn on him and cry “Dad made us eat this.”
Chocolate cake is not a nutritious breakfast. Products like Vio, with a few healthy ingredients but loaded with sugar, are not nutritious drinks. I would hate for a parent to think, "Milk, fruit flavoring -- that's nutrition!"
Now, we all know that there is place for chocolate cake in our diets as a special treat. And, there is probably a place for drinks like Vio in our diets as an occasional treat. I myself, have the occasional Coke. But when marketers start touting drinks like Vio as healthy, I get concerned. Let me be clear, I haven’t personally seen any marketing of this drink, so I don’t know if “healthy” is the way they’ll go. But I see the potential.
I’ve said it before. We need to be smarter than the marketers. We need to read the list of ingredients and question what’s on those lists. We need to think for ourselves. We need to use common sense.
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