All of us diet soda aficionados have had this experience at least once, right? Sitting in a restaurant with a group of people and ordering a Diet Coke only to be rewarded with a look of disgust or derisive comment from one or more "healthy eaters." It's always the same - "that's just a bunch of chemicals!" (with appropriate vitriol). You'd think I ordered a plate of sauteed yak scrotum.
Well, I'm perfectly happy with my bottle of chemicals, since, as I have written numerous times (1), aspartame is one of the least toxic substances on earth. It's so safe that its lethal dose can't really be measured, but it is at least 50-times less toxic in rats than, let's say, caffeine.
Aspartameb > 10,000
Caffeine = 192
aMPK is shorthand for milligrams per kilogram body weight of an animal or human.
b The value listed for aspartame is not an actual number. This is because it makes no sense to give doses larger than 10,000 mpk. A dose of 10,000 MPK is in humans is equivalent to 700 grams (700 packets,1.5 pounds (!)). Yes, that's the approximate lethal dose of what "Crazy Joe Mercola" calls "By Far the Most Dangerous Substance Added to Most Foods Today." It would seem as if Crazy Joe needs a crash course in toxicology. Or maybe just a crash.
It's no accident that I mentioned caffeine because if you *really* want to drink a bottle of chemicals (and feel good about yourself because it's "organic") here's the product for you!
Red Bull Organic Soda - A big can of bull?
It is nothing short of hilarious that the company is hopping onto the "Nature Express" and presenting its new products as organic as if this is somehow going to make even the slightest difference in your life. And Red Bull, which is now Red Bull in name only, has pulled another trick - taking out the caffeine. The original stuff was loaded with sugar and caffeine, which is the reason that people bought it in the first place - a stimulant plus a bunch of sugar enough to give you the energy to climb Everest with a Buick strapped to your back.
But now the company has significantly cut back on the amount of caffeine it previously added to its Cola and adds no caffeine to any of the other flavors. But why organic?? This is where things get seriously awful. To know why they are able to make this stupid claim, you need to read the label.
Here are the ingredients that are listed on a can of Red Bull Cola:
"Water, Sugar, Caramel Sugar Syrup, Carbon Dioxide, Natural Flavourings from Plant Extracts (0.33 %: Caffeine from Coffee Beans (0.013 %), Lemon, Ginger, Lime, Vanilla, Liquorice, Galangal, Cinnamon, Kola Nut, Cocoa, Orange, Cardamom, Mint, Pine, Mace, Clove), Lemon Juice Concentrate."
Bingo. Red Bull Cola is "organic" because the company is using caffeine extracted from coffee beans rather than plain old stinky caffeine, which is made in a factory (2). Except there is NO difference. None. Whether the caffeine comes from a factory, coffee beans, or one of the moons of Jupiter is irrelevant. Caffeine is caffeine, something that the Red Bullds###ers at Red Bull surely know. But this doesn't stop them from intentionally misleading the public into thinking that their soda is healthy.
American Council Advisor Dr. David Seres, the Director of Nutritional Medical at New York Presbyterian Medical Center had this to say:
"The only ingredients in Red Bull Cola that would actually provide temporary 'energy' are sugar and caffeine, a stimulant. Everything else is just added flavors. Red Bull's attempt to market its new products as drinks for the health conscious is dressing up cola with some cool-sounding ingredients and making you think it’s somehow better for you than any other sugared soda."
David Seres, M.D.
So, there ya go. Another masterpiece of organic marketing by a company who wants you to drink everything they make. Except what you will really be drinking is the organic Kool-aid. Which is no better or worse for you than any of Red Bull's ridiculous drinks.
(1) Oh, the irony! Ethanol is rated as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency on Cancer Research (IARC). Group 1 chemicals are "carcinogenic to humans," the highest warning level. Aspartame is not rated. Before you get too worried, IARC is seriously flipped out. Also present on the Group 1 list are processed meat (consumption of), and plutonium. Yeah, sure. Beer, plutonium and a hot dog are all equally dangerous.
(2) This isn't entirely true. There are other criteria that must be met for something to be deemed organic. They are so stupid that I didn't feel like spending the time. I wrote about this silliness in the Chicago Tribune in 2016.