Looking at two products, Swiss Miss Classics, Milk Chocolate Flavor and Swiss Miss No Sugar Added, Milk Chocolate Flavor, at first glance one might figure that the former would be sweetened with sugar, while only the latter contained artificial sweeteners.
One would be wrong.
Lately I have noticed that a beverage product packaged the same as a regular, sugar-sweetened product, contains artificial sweeteners. Except in the fine-print ingredient list, there is nothing on the box that indicates it contains them. Not only does this introduce aftertaste where none was expected, but it also puts artificial chemicals into the consumer’s body without sufficient warning of such.
I won’t sit here and declare that certain artificial additives do or do not cause cancer or other deleterious effects. I will, however, say that if there are serious questions about a substance, it makes sense to me to avoid it.
Swiss Miss Classics Milk Chocolate (90 calories, 8g sugar when made with water)
sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, carrageenan, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, artificial flavor.
Swiss Miss No Sugar Added Milk Chocolate Flavor (60 calories, 7g sugar when made with water)
modified whey, nonfat milk, cocoa (processed with alkali), maltodextrin, hydrogenated coconut oil, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, carrageenan, mono- and diglycerides, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, artificial flavors.
Oddly, besides sugar, corn syrup, and maltodextrin (a sweetener derived from the starch of either corn or wheat), the two contain exactly the same ingredients. This includes sucralose, the generic name for Splenda, and acesulfame potassium, the generic name for Sweet One. There are other controversial ingredients regardless of artificial sweeteners, but the consumer should be empowered to choose his or her poison.
This seems deceptive to me, and I hope it is the exception rather than the trend. Yes, the consumer ultimately is responsible, but when trying to avoid artificial sweeteners we have come to expect labels like “diet,” or “reduced-calorie,” or “less sugar.” Something, anything, to alert the shopper to move on to a product that does not contain those labels.
Companies use these ingredients for several reasons, I’m sure. Without asking them directly, I am sure that it’s cheaper to produce and to ship a product that contains less sugar. shipping costs go down as the weight of the product decreases. Much less of the artificial sweeteners are required versus sugar, which cuts down on weight and volume. They can cram more packets into the same size box. The Swiss Miss Classics Milk Chocolate packet (which reduces sugar weight by adding artificials) weighs 20.7 grams, while the Swiss Miss No Sugar Added comes in at 16 grams. A regular packet of Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Chocolate Mix, which I found online, weighs in at a hefty 34 grams. 1
I could not find an ingredients list for the packet without artificial sweeteners, and could not find one for sale at all. The link I found was just a site that helps count calories.
1 (information grabbed from http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-swiss-miss-hot-chocolate-mix-i114499)
So, next time you reach for a packet of hot cocoa mix, pay careful attention to what’s inside.