Consumers have been warned that hard cider drinks may contain a "hefty" dose of sugar.
As autumn is now sweeping the Northern Hemisphere, many of us are enjoying being cozied up inside with a pumpkin spice drink or an apple cider brew.
Hard ciders, made by fermenting apples or apple juice concentrate, are now growing in popularity, and while they already contain plenty of natural sugars, researchers are concerned that cider makers are adding sugar to further sweeten the alcoholic beverage or speed fermentation.
"Although manufacturers are required to list the amount of sugars per serving on the nutrition facts panel, they don't have to discriminate between those that naturally occur in the product in those that are put in later," the academics commented.
Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can increase the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
In light of the World Health Organization's 2015 recommendation to limit added sugars to 25 grams per day, Sheryl Singerling (then at the University of New Mexico) and her colleagues wanted to find out if several popular brands of hard ciders contain added sugar not disclosed in the ingredients list.
Accordingly, they analyzed the compositions of 23 ciders sold in the United States. Six of the products were imported from Europe, while the rest were made domestically.
"(The researchers) found that 60 per cent of domestic ciders contained added sugars from cane or corn syrup, compared with 20 per cent of imported ciders," they commented. "However, beet sugar is the most common sweetener in Europe, and the method couldn't distinguish between apple and beet sugars or honey... the researchers concluded that labels are not a reliable way to determine whether a cider has added sugar."
Full study results have been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.