Know What You're Eating: Italian Soda

I really like the Archer Farms Italian soda at Target. My week-long battle with the flu included several bottles of the Blood Orange variety. One look at the list of ingredients and it appears to be a fairly rational choice. It also gave me the impression that all Italian soda was made this way.

Italian soda from Target

Wow, I know what all the ingredients are

So last night we were doing the weekly shopping at Wegman's. I am still totally parched most of the time as the virus stages its last hurrah, and I decided I needed a beverage for the drive home. In the convenience cooler at the check-out, I found Blood Orange Italian soda and grabbed a bottle.

It tasted quite different. When we got home, I checked the label and found a very different list of ingredients.

Italian soda from Wegman's


That's a lot of crap! Why do you need stabilizers in soda? And what is Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin?

This is one of those ingredients that some clever marketer should have renamed by now. It's also challenging to find any real information as to what it actually is. While Wikipedia lists a high number of beverages that contain it, it only states that it is used as an emulsifier. Which sounds innocuous enough, but why would you need that in soda?

AnswerBag has a listing of what it is made from, albeit very scientifically. Basically, it appears to be pine rosin harvested from the stumps of trees. If this calls to mind such household items as turpentine, it isn't exactly the same. But, according to AnswerBag, it is a common component of things like floor wax. Even if it is a different grade of the stuff, I'm not entirely comfortable with the cross-over of cleaning products into food products. 

I'm also not sure why the Wegman's product needs a stabilizer and the Target product does not. If it's not needed, why add it? And, even if you trust the source, always read those food labels.