Thanks to sweeteners, we are able to offer lower-calorie and no-calorie versions of your favourite drinks.

From Diet Coke to Coca-Cola Zero, Fanta Orange Zero and Kia-Ora No Added Sugar, almost all our brands have a lower-calorie or no-calorie alternative – and they account for more than a third of the drinks Coca-Cola HBC sells in Ireland.

What are sweeteners?
They are substances added to food and drink to give it a sweet taste without adding calories, or very few. Most are hundreds times sweeter than sugar, which means only a little is needed.

Why are low-calorie and no-calorie sweeteners used?
We want there to be a wide range of delicious drink options and help those who are diabetic or looking to reduce their calorie intake. Sweeteners are sometimes used in drinks that contain sugar, as well, to reduce their overall calorie content. These sweeteners are often blended to get the best results.

Which sweeteners does Coca-Cola HBC use?
The most commonly used sweeteners they use are aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin and stevia leaf extract. For instance, in Diet Coke and Coke Zero, they use a blend of acesulfame-K and aspartame.

How do I know if a product contains sweeteners?
Coca-Cola HBC lists all of the ingredients they use on the packaging and online – including sweeteners. By law, food and drink containing sweeteners must carry the words ‘with sweetener’ on the label.

Are sweeteners safe for everyone?
Sweeteners have been used around the world for centuries. You can find them in soft drinks, sugar-free chewing gum, desserts, medicines and yoghurts. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) runs regular tests to check that they’re safe. Only people born with the rare genetic condition, phenylketonuria (PKU) must avoid aspartame as they’re unable to metabolise phenylalanine.

What is an acceptable daily intake (ADI)?
This measurement is based on the estimated amount per kilogram of body weight that a person can safely consume on average every day, over a lifetime, without risk. Scientists use this as a tool for working out the guidelines for the safe use of sweeteners.

Can sweeteners help me manage my weight?
When combined with an active, healthy lifestyle, sweeteners may help with weight control – but they don’t in themselves lead to weight loss. A negative energy balance (using more calories than you take in) can though. Try our Work It Out calculator for ways you can maintain a healthy weight.

Are sweeteners bad for my teeth?
Sweeteners don’t promote tooth decay. However, any food or drink containing fermentable carbohydrates (sugars and starches), including calorific sparkling drinks, can play a role in the development of tooth decay. When they’re consumed the bacteria in our mouths converts the sugar to acid (it can’t do this to sweeteners though), and if we don’t clean this away when we brush our teeth it can wear away the surface enamel, eventually causing cavities to form.

Can people with diabetes use sweeteners?
Yes. Studies have shown that lower- and no-calorie sweeteners can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition and calorie intake.

People with diabetes have to manage the amount of sugar they consume to maintain their blood glucose levels. Sweeteners are useful for people with diabetes as they don’t impact on blood glucose levels. Products containing sweeteners, like our sugar-free drinks, help to offer people with diabetes a wider choice of food and drink. When used consistently, they may also help people with type 2 diabetes with the important task of controlling their weight.

If you have diabetes, always consult your GP for dietary advice.

Can people with PKU use sweeteners?
No – they must avoid food and drink sweetened with aspartame, which includes Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero, because they cannot metabolise phenylalanine. It’s important that they control their intake of this amino acid which is why we’ve have ensured all our drinks are clearly labelled, to highlight any problematic ingredients.