Friday, September 5, 2014

This Substance In Coke Is Linked To Multiple Health Issues


Certain Coca-Cola bottles claim that the drink contains no artificial flavors and chemical preservatives. This seems to be the company’s newest strategy to get the more health-conscious costumers back on board. The only problem is that the labeling is somewhat misleading. Coke contains the notorious phosphoric acid, which is essentially both an artificial flavor and a preservative, and has been linked to many health problems.

Coca-Cola is under fire for its deceptive labeling, and several class action lawsuits have been filed across the US. The company officials say that phosphoric acid is not on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) list of artificial flavors, so they are not obliged to name it as one. But this claim was quickly discredited, as the FDA’s list is not meant to be exhaustive.

The FDA defines artificial flavors as ingredients included specifically to add flavor and which are not derived from natural sources like fruit and vegetable juice, plant materials, or dairy products, among other things. Coke doesn’t hide the fact that phosphoric acid is used in its signature drink, and includes it in the list of ingredients. It adds tartness to Coke (that’s why the abundance of sugar has to be used to mask and balance the acidity), and prevents spoilage, so it’s clearly a flavoring and a chemical preservative.

Phosphoric acid is also known as E338, orthophosphoric acid, and phosphoric(V) acid. It is a mass-produced chemical, available cheaply and in large quantities. It can be used to remove rust, while the food-grade phosphoric acid is a very acidifying agent. It makes the drink more acid than vinegar or lemon juice. Some studies have linked phosphoric acid to osteoporosis, chronic kidney disease and kidney stones. One such study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006. The main conclusion of the study was that drinking cola is associated with low bone mineral density (BMD) in women. Women who were drinking Coke daily, had 3.7% lower BMD at the femoral neck compared to those who didn’t consume the drink. The link was not found with other carbonated soft drinks.

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