2 Test: Are Fast Food Diet Drinks Really Diet?

5:45 PM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Has it happened to you? You pay at a drive through - only to later learn not everything you ordered is in the bag. Well 2 Wants To Know how often orders get mixed-up, so we put 30 area restaurants to the 2 Test.

During the weekday lunch time rush, the 2 Wants to Know Team ordered the exact same 32 ounce diet soda with no ice at 10 fast food chains across the Triad. We chose a mixture of the largest national and local restaurants. For each chain we tested one location in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point. In all we visited 30 drive thrus.

To see if they really served us the sugar-free drink we ordered, we used diabetic testing strips which detect sugar in liquids. They start off one color. If there is no sugar in the drink, the strips will stay that color. If there is, they will turn a darker shade.

Only two of the drinks we tested showed traces of sugar - not the same levels of a regular sugary soda, but enough for the strips to detect a difference from diet. That trace amount translates to less than half a pack of sugar in the cup. An actual 32-ounce coke would have the equivalent of about 30 packs.

Both drinks came from Burger King - High Point's South Main Street location and Greensboro's Summit Avenue location.

Burger King says they're looking into, but an article from Diabetes Health says finding traces of sugar in diet drinks is not uncommon. One possible cause - an employee starting to fill the drink with regular then switching to diet.

Remember though it was rare for us. Out of 30 drinks, we only received two with any detectable sugar. That means we found no sugar and clearly got the diet coke we ordered at McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, KFC, Chick-fil-a, Sonic, Arby's, Biscuitville, and Bojangle's Those odds are pretty easy to swallow.

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