Dispatch: Sierra Mist Not-So-Natural

Look for a big advertising campaign beginning a week from Monday about a new all-“natural” lemon-lime soda. PepsiCo is eliminating “Sierra Mist” in favor of “Sierra Mist Natural”, which will be sweetened with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, Advertising Age reports.

“There’s not a strong reason to choose one [lemon-lime] brand over another,” Kristina Mangelsdorf, vice president of natural and flavored sodas at PepsiCo, told Ad Age. “And when we asked consumers what would re-engage them in soda, 'natural’ was the No. 1 concept.”

“High-fructose corn syrup is not natural. And the sugar we ingest in sodas is not natural,” points out ACSH’s Jeff Stier. “Sugar is cultivated, it’s processed, it’s refined. Neither of them are natural, and neither of them are dangerous — except in excess.”

Dr. Ross says high-fructose corn syrup has the same caloric content as sucrose. “There’s nothing special about it calorigenically or metabolically,” he says. “There’s no reason to impugn it as a cause of obesity.”

But Stier says the new soda could contribute to the obesity epidemic if people drink more than moderate amounts of it because they perceive it’s “natural” and therefore safe.