Carbonated Soft Drinks
Carbonated soft drinks are some of the most popular beverages in Australia. Offering a variety of options, the Australian beverages industry produces a carbonated drink suitable for any taste preference or dietary need. Both carbonated regular and diet soft drinks are made through a process of mixing carbonated water with syrup containing colouring, flavouring, and sweeteners. These sweeteners can be either nutritive, such as sugar, non-nutritive, such as artificial sweeteners, or a blend of both. A wide range of flavours and kilojoule options are available.
What is a Carbonated Soft Drink?
A soft drink is a mix carbonated water and flavouring, sweetened with either natural sugar or a non-nutritive sweetener. At least 86% of a soft drink is purified water. Some soft drinks, such as plain sodas and natural mineral waters, are entirely water. As a source of water and, in many cases energy, sugar-sweetened soft drinks can play a useful role in a balanced diet. Soft drinks, both sugar-sweetened and non-sugar sweetened, can also play a useful role in many social situations as an alternative to alcohol.
Soft drinks can be sweetened with sucrose/ table sugar or a range of artificial sweeteners. Table sugar or sucrose is widely used commercially and comes from the sugar cane plant. The amount of sugar used in a soft drink is about 10% – about the same as you would find in a fruit juice. In fruit juice, the sugar is mainly fructose – a simple sugar found mostly in fruit. Sucrose is slightly different, and is made up of two individual simple sugars – fructose and glucose. Despite their differences, both sucrose and fructose are carbohydrates and provide 17kJ/g of energy to the body. Carbohydrates like sugar have the same energy content as proteins (17kJ/g) and about half as much as fat (37kJ/g) and as alcohol (29kJ/g).
Soft drinks can also be flavoured in a number of ways. Natural flavourings are derived from fruits, vegetables, nuts, bark, fruit juices, leaves, herbs, spices, oils and other natural extracts. Artificial flavourings are used to give consumers greater choice in taste. Artificial flavours often reproduce those found naturally and are termed “nature identical.” In soft drinks containing natural flavours or fruit juices – a preservative may be added to prevent spoilage.
Caffeine is also used in some soft drinks, such as cola flavoured drinks. Caffeine has been part of cola drinks since their introduction, although currently caffeine-free cola drinks are available. The amount of caffeine in a cola drink is one quarter to one third that found in an equal amount of coffee.
Lastly, carbon dioxide gives soft drinks their special bubbling appeal. The bubbles are added in a process called carbonation during which the soft drink is placed under pressure and chilled. This allows the carbon dioxide to be absorbed. Besides making the drink more refreshing, the bubbles actually help keep a soft drink product fresh.