Blog: Andy MortonAre you fodmap-compliant? The latest health fad uncovered

Andy Morton | 23 November 2015

Forget gluten-free. Fodmaps are the latest food trend, and if you work in the soft drinks industry it is important to know where you stand with them.

After all, despite gluten-free being dismissed by some as pseudo-scientific claptrap (30% of Americans think they have a problem with gluten, though scientific tests show only 1% are gluten-intolerant), GF products reportedly raked in US$15bn last year in the US.

But trends are shifting, and fodmaps are the next big concern for the conscientious healthy eater.

But what are they? According to Wikipedia, Fodmaps are “short chain carbohydrates (oligosaccharides), disaccharides, monosaccharides and related alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine”. More importantly, some people believe they cause bowel irritation, and suggest you stay away from them to be kind to your gut.

Pertinently for soft drinks, some sugars contain them, whereas other sugars don't. So to keep you ahead of the curve, here's a list of the fodmap-friendly and the fodmap-foes.

Be warned, though. As with many modern-day diet trends, this all should be taking with a pinch of salt (which, you'll be pleased to hear, is allowed as part of a low-fodmap diet).

High-fructose corn syrup - This is a big no-no. Already taking a battering from health activists who regard it as the devil's sweetener, HFCS also gets a thumbs-down from fodmap fanatics because of its high fructose count. Fructose is to fodmaps what pasta and bread was to the Atkin's diet - all practitioners tell you to steer clear. Which is why fruits including bananas, blueberries, grapes, lemons, oranges, pineapple, raspberries, rhubarb and strawberries are all on the banned list.

Cane sugar - This is deemed safe, which is good news for PepsiCo as it uses cane sugar in Pepsi True, launched last year. The company's Mtn Dew Black Label, launched in September, also uses cane sugar, which suggests PepsiCo has been paying attention to the fodmap fad.

By the way, cane sugar is apparently ok because it contains sucrose, also known as table sugar, and not fructose.

Beet sugar - Safe. CSDs in Europe use beet sugar because of EU policies that block alternatives, so no need for change there. Beet sugar contains 99.95% sucrose, according to this blog.

Fruit Sugar - As mentioned above, a lot of fruit is off limits because of its fructose content. Fruit juice products are therefore not fodmap-compliant unless they come from the fodmap-friendly-fruit list that includes blackberries, guava, peaches, mangos, plums and apples.

Stevia - The new kid on the sweetener block is firmly on the safe list, which is good news for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the many other soft drinks makers that are betting on stevia to assuage consumer fears over artificial sweeteners. Nevertheless....

Aspartame - Safe! Finally some good news for the much-maligned aspartame, health concerns over which was believed to be behind PepsiCo's decision to remove it from Diet Pepsi in the US.

As for all the swathes of other products that still contain aspartame, expect a “fodmap-friendly” logo to appear on them over the next few months.


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