Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

How much “real ginger” is in ginger ale?

17 Comments

My colleague has decided that I’m her own personal investigative reporter. She asked me to find out how much ginger is actually in ginger ale and to report on it in my blog. Unfortunately, my investigation hasn’t been particularly fruitful. Here’s what I was able to find out: I went to the Canada Dry website and found the ingredients in their ginger ale: Carbonated Water, Sugar/Glucose-Fructose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavour, Sodium Benzoate, Colour. In their little write-up they state that their ginger ale has “100% natural flavours, including real ginger”. Their FAQ section has the question: “How much real ginger is in Canada Dry ginger ale?” and the answer: “That information is part of our proprietary formula and is not divulged.”  Clearly, the “real ginger” is just one of the ingredients included under “Natural Flavour.” I emailed the company to ask what the other “natural flavours” are and what form the “real ginger” is in (e.g. ginger syrup). This is the response I received: “The amount and source of our natural flavors is considered proprietary information. The “natural flavors” listed on the ingredient statement contains flavor from many types of real ginger roots. The ginger flavor in ginger ale is extracted from the ginger roots and then blended with other citrus flavors to produce the unique flavor in ginger ale.  Since the ginger flavor is combined with natural flavors, we chose to label the combination “natural flavors” on the ingredient statement.” I can understand that Canada Dry would be concerned that someone might steal their secret recipe. However, I am a little surprised that they wouldn’t reveal the source of the other “natural flavours” as this would be important information to someone with a food allergy or intolerance. I’ve hit a dead end with my investigation, so this is where my conjecture comes into play. As ingredients are listed by weight (therefore the most common ingredient is the first ingredient and the last ingredients are generally quite negligible) and ginger is part of “natural flavours” (not even listed individually) I don’t think that there’s a whole heck of a lot of “real ginger” in Canada Dry’s ginger ale. If you want to be sure that you’re getting ginger root in your ginger ale, and you have a little bit of time on your hands, you could try making your own. I found a recipe on Simply Recipes for homemade ginger ale. My only suggestion would be to use less simple syrup than the recipe recommends. Try adding to your glass by the teaspoon, stirring, and tasting until you obtain the desired sweetness. I’m not endorsing this as a healthy recipe, but in relation to the questionable quantity of “real ginger” in commercially produced ginger ale it’s a better option.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

17 thoughts on “How much “real ginger” is in ginger ale?

  1. Nickel Brook Brewery in Burlington are in the process of coming up with a ginger ale recipe. They also make an awesome Rootbeer. On their website you can click to see the label listing the ingredients. http://www.nickelbrook.com/

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  2. After finding some benefit in juicing ginger, I decided to add ginger juice to ginger ale. Sometimes I use a juicer. Sometimes a garlic press and a strainer if it’s an inconsiderate time to start up the juicing motor. It changes the flavor considerably when added to the ginger ale (it adds a kick that can be intolerable if too much juice is added), but to sooth my GERD symptoms, this is one of my favorite quick-tricks so far.

    My friend and I had a short debate over whether there is real ginger in ginger ale to start with. He used to deliver for them and said they can slant wording on things to suit their needs. (Hence, how I found t his post).

    It’s a pity the big corps shoot for Less-perishable rather than More-healthy. I guess it all comes down to the bottom line.

    I also plan on using this idea when I have the terrible winter/flu bugs that go around New England. The regular ginger ale doesn’t seem to do much when I’ve fallen ill i the past. Perhaps this would act as a better remedy along with the chicken broth.

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  3. Just get Reed’s Ginger Brew and Extra Ginger Brew (non-alcoholic) made with 17 & 25 grams of real ginger, not extract.

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  4. i just stumbled upon this.
    i know the answer: zero.
    without getting into detail; i know someone who works for a new york ad agency that did an ad campaign for canada dry ginger ale, and my friend told me that one of the canada dry execs admitted there was no actual ginger in ginger ale, and he said it as it laughingly, as if it were funny.
    in other words; it contains real ginger in the same way that homeopathic aspirin contains real aspirin. (ie; not at all)
    needless to say, my friend was a little taken aback, as was i when he told me.
    tell your friend.

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    • Interesting. Not terribly surprising, but still interesting. It’s awful that companies can get away with lying about ingredients in their products. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  5. I think the commercial where she pulls the gingerale out of the cooler from a field is very deceiving but I guess natural 100% natural flavor is good enough even with one drop.

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  6. I am one of those people who is not supposed to have ginger as it interacts negatively with a pill I take. I have been rying to find out for years if there is actually ginger in ginger ale

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  7. I got basically the same response…

    February 28, 2016
    Dear Mr. Walter:

    Thank you for contacting us about Canada Dry Ginger Ale. We’re always excited to hear from our consumers. Your comments give us valuable input about our brands and how they are enjoyed.

    The “natural flavors” listed on the ingredient statement includes flavor from many types of real ginger roots. The ginger flavor in ginger ale is extracted from the ginger roots and then blended with other citrus flavors to produce the unique flavor in ginger ale. Since the ginger flavor is combined with natural flavors, we chose to label the combination “natural flavors” on the ingredient statement, as permitted by applicable regulations.

    Thank you for your loyalty, Aric, and hope you have a great day!

    Sincerely,

    Megan
    Consumer Relations

    If anyone has ever read fast food nation the author discovered “natural flavors” could be chemicals made in New Jersey. I use ginger for it’s anti-nausea effects and in a pinch bought some Canada Dry but it wasn’t effective and then I read the ingredients. Front of bottle reads 100% ginger and the back reads…well we all know and should spread the word. Ginger is medicine to me so a misleading label bordering on fraud is just not acceptable.

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  8. Canada Dry must have a tiny bit or at least did several years ago. I love ginger ale however I have developed an adult on set allergy to ginger that is actually quite bad in terms of reactions. About the time Canada Dry announced that they were real ginger, I tried some to test it. I actually had a reaction however it was not nearly as bad handling powdered ginger when attempting to make gingerbread. Albertsons brand ginger ale didn’t have an effect at all so it must not have any in it. Just now I’m about to attempt Seagrams as I’m craving it pretty bad but am unsure if I will have any reaction.

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  9. So glad I found your post. I have GERD and like the natural healing qualities of ginger. I’ve wondered about Canada Dry for awhile. Now that I know, I’ll avoid using ginger ale for my digestive issues. Instead, I’ll continue an alternative iced tea recipe I created. I brew a mixture of decaffinated green tea, an organic ginger herbal tea (Traditional Medicinals brand), and Bigelow Mint Medley herbal tea. It is cool, refreshing and tastes great! I’ve served it to guests all of whom loved it.

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  10. So there’s no point in continuing to buy any brand of ginger ale for the benefits of ginger. Ok , all the brands have lost , at least , one customer.

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  11. It is my understanding that many times, “Natural Flavors” or “Other Natural Flavors” may contain Castoreum (beaver anal gland excretion), known to be a “natural” flavoring.

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