The Cola Wars: Two More Reasons Why Big Soda Can’t Catch a Break


Coca-Cola and Pepsi have always been very protective of their secret recipes, but the two soda giants may need to own up to one little detail if they want to maintain sales with a certain segment of the population.

A new study out of France claims that the two soda giants’ beverages contain a trace amount of alcohol. In fact, according to the National Institute of Consumption in Paris, more than half of the leading cola brands do, which is bad news for those who can’t drink the stuff for religious, safety, or medical reasons.

The actual amount is quite low, “but the figures will still be enough to upset the thousands of Muslims who regularly drink Cola because their religion forbids them from drinking alcohol,” the Daily Mail commented.

“It is possible that traces of alcohol come from the process,” said Michel Pepin, scientific director for Coca-Cola France. “The Paris Mosque has provided us with a certificate stating that our products can be consumed by the Muslim community in line with the religious opinions of the Committee of the Mosque of Paris.” Pepsi insists that it doesn’t use alcohol in its recipe.

Meanwhile, soda makers are embroiled in a separate fight against all the organizations and politicians that are linking soda to the exploding waistlines of our population.[more]

“Consumption of added sugars is going down,” Karen Hanretty, VP of public affairs for the American Beverage Association, stated according to TIME. “Soda consumption has declined, even as obesity has increased. To say that sugar is solely responsible for obesity doesn’t make sense.”

But some public health advocates feel that the corporate social responsibility campaigns that big soda and food companies are using are helping them avoid public health scrutiny.

The researchers contend that corporate citizenship campaigns such as the Pepsi Refresh project and Coca-Cola’s Live Positively are similar to those launched by big tobacco and “were designed to refocus responsibility from corporations back onto consumers, to increase the popularity of the companies’ products, and to prevent government regulation,” TIME reports. 

“Soda CSR initiatives have to be put in perspective. They’re using them to distract the public and policy makers from their main business, which is selling sugary and caffeinated drinks to as many people as possible,” stated Andrew Cheyne, a study co-author and a researcher at the Berkeley Media Studies Group in California. Your thoughts?