A reader was thinking about giving her grandchildren a Sodastream set for Christmas but when she looked at the syrup she was shocked at the list of "sugary ingredients and colours", she said.
"They have recently put out a syrup that is less sugary but it seems to be full of sodium. Then a friend told me just the water made fizzy isn't particularly healthy either. So, I would really appreciate it if you could so some research for me."
First up, just bubbly water is fine. All you are doing in the Sodastream machine is putting carbon dioxide into the water to make it fizzy - so no health worries there.
This was the only type of syrup on offer at my local supermarket and I think it belongs to the "less sugary" category.
Sodastream Raspberry Flavoured Sparkling Water Mix. $8.69 for 500ml.
Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):
This is a syrup so you would expect it to be mainly made up of sugar. The sugar content of this is 9g when made up into a 250ml drink with water.
This will be artificial flavour as there is no mention of natural flavours on the label.
Food Acid (citric acid E330)
Citric acid is a natural product found in citrus fruits and can be found in products for flavour as well as a preservative.
Non-nutritive sweeteners ( Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium )
These are artificial sweeteners. Sucralose is made from sugar but has no calories. Acesulfame Potassium is a chemical that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It has had a controversial past but four long-term studies of dogs, mice and rats showed no toxic effects.
Acidity regulator (sodium citrate E331)
Sodium citrate is a salt of citric acid.
Colour (E 122)
This is an artificial red colour, Carmoisine, which was included in a voluntary phase-out called for by the UK's Food Standards Agency and an EU-wide health warning must now be put on any food or drink that still contains this colour. It is thought to cause hyperactivity in some children, especially when consumed with the preservative sodium benzoate (E211) which is also in this syrup.
Preservative (sodium benzoate E211)
Sodium benzoate has been replaced by many food producers after it was found to have a hyperactive response in children when combined with some artificial colours (see above). In New Zealand the colours and preservative are allowed for use by our Food Standards Authority.
The most disappointing thing about this syrup is that nowhere on the packaging does it signal that it uses artificial sweeteners, which many people like to avoid. Normally a product will have the word "diet," "light" or "low sugar" but this simply presents itself as a normal syrup.
Obviously the producers want something which is lower in sugar, but not to tell the consumer clearly what they have done is not good. Of course if you are an ingredients list reader you will find the two artificial sweeteners, plus the artificial colours, flavours and preservative sodium benzoate.
In answer to our reader I would say by all means by a Sodastream machine to make fizzy water but encourage the kids to enjoy it with a dash of good quality fruit juice for added flavour. And I can't see any salt in here as an ingredient, but you will get a small amount (16.2mg) of sodium per 250ml drink made with this syrup possibly from the sodium benzoate.
• Uses two artificial sweeteners as well as sugar.
• Uses artificial flavour
• Uses an artificial colour which has been voluntarily phased out in the UK and the preservative sodium benzoate.