When Water isn’t Water

I got a bottle of flavored water at the store the other day. At least, that’s what I thought I was buying. I’d occasionally pick up a simple sparkling mineral water with lime and cherry oils added, which I found to be a delightfully refreshing drink that offered the same bite as sodas without the junk ingredients, and I’d indulge myself from time to time.

This time, however, I didn’t notice a change in the label until I got it home. Instead of simply calling it “Sparking Mineral Water” they called it “Sparkling Water Beverage.” When I saw the word “beverage” alarms went off in my head. “Beverage” added to water is like “drink” added to juice. It means it’s not what it says it is. (A juice drink generally is short on juice and waterlong on sugar and artificial flavors.)

The “beverage” turned out to have many different ingredients other than plain old water: carbonated water, citric acid, natural flavor, potassium citrate, aspartame, potassium benzoate, and acesulfame potassium.

If this particular beverage is water, then so is Coca Cola. The ingredients in Coke Zero are carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, potassium benzoate, and acesulfame potassium and caffeine.

The main difference between Coke Zero and “my” Sparkling Water Beverage seems to be the coloring and caffeine. Otherwise, they are basically the same sort of product.

I would never have bought the “water” if I had paid attention to the ingredients since I stay away from aspartame and rarely drink sodas.

I guess this will teach me to read all labels, especially the labels for something as innocuous as water.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

6 Responses to “When Water isn’t Water”

  1. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    There are a number of fruit juice and sparkling water companies connected to the brand name Cocoa Cola. Goulburn Valley for example is owned by Cocoa Cola. Here in Australia Cocoa Cola tends to put cane sugar in many of their products. I believe it is corn syrup as a sweetener in some parts of the USA.

    Carbonated water is not a problem. It is just another way of saying we put the bubbles in. Yep. I suppose you would call it a soda after that. Here we’d call it a soft drink. The other stuff you mention is a bit of a concern. Nice of them to add natural flavors after all the other junk.

  2. Holly Bonville Says:

    Been there, done that. And it tastes horrible!

  3. Malene Says:

    Where’s the “like” button? 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I was going to make a joke about needing one, then I realized there actually is a like button, but maybe you have to have a wordpress account to see it.

  4. mickeyhoffman Says:

    At least the water part of it was probably ok to drink? Not bottled in Flint, MI?

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