The Guide > Food & Drink > Drinks > Soft Drinks
Soft Drinks
Likely to contain artificial sweeteners such as Acesulfame K, Alitame, Aspartame, Cyclamate, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose. These are chemical flavour enhancers, used as sugar substitutes. Aspartame is 180 to 200 times sweeter than sugar and contains about four calories per gram. Neotame is 13,000 sweeter than sugar. Concerns relate to the three main components in some artificial sweeteners - phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol - when processed in the body, breaking down into formic acid and formaldehyde. These have been associated with retinal eye damage and birth defects.
  • Check the label and avoid artificial sweeteners, particularly 951 and 961.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is the basis for plastics such as polycarbonates and is found in consumer goods such as baby bottles, plastic microwave food containers and canned food and beverage linings. On October 2008, Canada became the first country to formally declare BPA hazardous to human health, due to its links with a wide range of health disorders from infertility, breast and prostate cancer, to thyroid malfunction, attention deficit syndrome and recurrent miscarriage. It is commonly found in PVC and PS plastic packaging (cordial bottles, yoghurt tubs) and in the lining of canned food tins.
  • You can reduce exposure to BPA by avoiding the following plastics: No.3 - PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), No.6 - PS (PolyStyrene), No.7 - includes PC (PolyCarbonate).
  • See Deakin University study, supporting the growing international evidence of the health risks. April 2014 Deakin
  • See which companies are taking steps to remove BPA from their products in this report by As You Sow: As You Sow
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. It is highly addictive and causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (headaches being the most common) if you stop drinking it suddenly. Most people get their caffeine fixes from coffee and tea, but it is also present in cola drinks, energy drinks and chocolate (the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains).

Caffeine is a strong diuretic and can cause insomnia, tremors and reduced fertility in men. It's bad news for pregnant women too.
  • Typical caffeine quantities: Red Bull (250ml can) - 80mg; Mother (500ml can) - 160mg; Coca-Cola can - 40mg; Coffee - 80-100mg typically; Tea - about half that of coffee (varies greatly); A chocolate bar - up to 10mg
  • Find out how much caffeine you consume each day using Choice's Caffeine calculator. Caffeine calculator
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