A PETITION has been launched to “save” Scotland’s national soft drink as it faces the biggest recipe change for 116 years.
The iconic nuclear-orange soft drink is to have its sugar content cut by 50% in January next year.
However, devoted fans of A.G Barr’s famous drink have launched a petition to stop the change taking place.
The appeal to save the drink has attracted nearly 2,500 signatures in less than three weeks after it was posted online.
The petition comes just weeks ahead of plans to halve the sugary content in the drink and replaced with mix of low calorie sweeteners including aspartame.
It is set to be the biggest change to the drink’s secret recipe which is kept under lock and key and known to only three people.
The recipe change comes as food and drink manufacturers across the UK are altering their products to meet the government’s target of a 20% sugar reduction by 2020.
The petition on change.org, started by Ryan Allen, reads: “Hands off our Irn-Bru. Please don’t change the recipe by cutting sugar for sweeteners.
“Barr have announced that from January 2018 they intend to cut 50% of sugar from Irn-Bru in favour of sweetener aspartame.
“I understand that soft drink manufacturers are coming under mounting pressure from government to lower the sugar content of their drinks and that they intend on introducing a ‘sugar tax’ that would apply to the sales of sugary drinks similar to the way cigarettes and alcohol are taxed.
“I would far rather pay more for a bottle than have an altered recipe version.
It continues: “Although we are being made more aware of the health effects of too much sugar in our diet it also has to be said that aspartame has often been the subject of studies and intense debate and is believed, by some researchers and activists, to have links to a multitude of ailments including cancer, seizures, headaches, depression, ADHD, weight gain and birth defects.
“I believe that a responsible adult should have the choice as to what poisons they want to put in their body and i think that Irn-Bru should continue to sell its original full sugar recipe even if that is at a price increase, or risk sales plummeting like they have with Lucozade since they cut sugar.
“IRN BRU is such a distinct flavour no other brand who try imitate it get it right, and if Barr follow suit of the likes of Lucozade, Dr Pepper, Sprite etc I think its iconic flavour will be affected.
“It is a national treasure in Scotland and really is part of our culture with its unique taste, branding and marketing.
“It’s also well known to alleviate the effects of a hangover and is many a persons craving, savior or go to drink after a night on the tiles I think to deny people in that condition their crutch would be a crime.
“Don’t do it Barr please have a rethink on this. Hands off our Bru.”
Since being launched less than three weeks ago, the appeal has attracted 2,474 or the 2,500 signatures needed to send off a letter to the drink’s manufacturer A.G Barr.
Irn-Bru fans from around the world have signed the petition with signatures from fans in Canada, Netherlands, the USA and England.
Hundreds of the Irn Bru fans left comments behind on the page.
Mairi Macphail wrote: “I dont want the flavour of irn bru to be ruined. Keep the original or die a copy. Everybody loves uniquness coming from a true Scot here.”
Cheraine Folger said: “Please Barr don’t cut the sugar out, I would pay extra if u keep it the way it has always been, best drink ever”
Iain Gardner commented: “I’ve been drinking Irn-Bru since I was a child, even over here in Canada , but I don’t drink anything with aspartame in it because of health concerns and taste.”
Sarah Christy responded: “Irn Bru is an institution don’t change it.”
According to A.G Barr’s website the sugar content per 100ml will reduce from 10.3g to 4.7g and will be replaced by a mixture sweeteners including aspartame.
The controversial sweetner has been the subject of scare stories since being approved for used in Europe in the 1980s.
Up to 200 times sweeter than sugar, aspartame is used all over the world as a sugar substitute in thousands of foods and drinks, including cereals, sugar-free chewing gum, low-calorie (diet) soft drinks and table-top sweeteners.
According to the NHS, in 2013 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducted an investigation into the sweetner and concluded that aspartame was safe for human consumption, including pregnant women and children.
A spokesman from IRN-BRU said: “From early January 2018 IRN-BRU will still have its unique great taste but with less sugar. IRN-BRU will remain a sugary drink, we are simply reducing the sugar level.
“There’s no change to the IRN-BRU essence, which is still made to our secret recipe, and we’ve achieved a really great tasting match with less sugar. We love how passionate our drinkers are but this decision was in response to the majority of our consumers wanting less sugar.”