Black Listed Food – Erythritol

I made a mistake yesterday that I am paying for today. I had a gift card that was expiring, so I wanted to use the last $2 on it. I stopped at a gas station, in a hurry, and grabbed a Bai “Narino Peach Supertea.” I will take the blame for not reading the ingredients carefully, but I saw that there were no artificial sweeteners, and it had 5 calories per serving, so I didn’t continue investigating. I assumed the calories came from the 2% juice that was claimed to be in the tea. Upon further reading, I was mistaken….

Each serving of the tea contains 1g of sugar, but 5g of erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol that is sweet, but not digested by the body. Do you remember those Atkin’s bars from the 90s… the ones that caused all kind of stomach problems? Well, those contained maltitol, a different sugar alcohol. Erythritol is supposed to be less of a stomach hazard, but I’m sorry to say, for me, that wasn’t the case.

Each 8oz serving of tea contained 5g erythritol, which means there are 11.25g erythritol in the entire bottle (who drinks less than half a bottle?). Apparently, erythritol can cause stomach issues in higher doses, but for some people, 10g is enough to be a problem. I am apparently fortunate enough to be in that number!

I had the tea this morning and I will admit it tasted good. Unfortunately, a few hours later, I had to change my opinion, as it was certainly not worth the stomach issues that resulted. My stomach is still struggling as I type this…

I called Bai to hopefully better understand their claim that this tea contained “no artificial sweeteners”. I was transferred to customer relations for Dr. Pepper/Snapple (who bought Bai in 2017) and asked the representative how they could label this drink as containing no artificial ingredients when erythritol wasn’t exactly natural. I commented that stevia is in this product and at least can see the connection, but even though stevia started out as a plant, it’s highly processed by the time it ends up in a drink.

Erythritol is made by the fermenting of glucose in cornstarch. Most cornstarch is GMO, but I guess they use a non-GMO cornstarch, but that still doesn’t make erythritol a natural sweetener in my book. Is it just considered natural because some fruits and fermented foods contain it? I don’t believe it was extracted from those…

The customer relations representative described erythritol, telling me it was a four-carbon sugar, a low calorie sweetener, etc. I replied that I understood what it was, I just wanted to understand how it’s natural. She told me it was “approved by the FDA” and their labeling “meets all legal and regulatory requirements”. She took my comments and that was that. And, that’s that for me too – lesson remembered, I cannot ingest erythritol! My stomach has added this to the black listed “foods.”

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