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Are Cola's OK To Drink?

Updated on December 12, 2011
They used to be a lot lighter in color
They used to be a lot lighter in color


What triggered this hub was a discussion I had with our general manager at the golf course. Seems he stopped drinking cola's and dark brown root beers because he found that after years of drinking the stuff, he doubled over in pain one day after consuming a cola drink. He claims he used to drink a 2 litre bottle a day. He felt it might have to do with whatever they use as food coloring to make both drinks dark brown. He said that ginger ale and the clearer soft drinks didn't result in the same experience.

It also tweaked my interest from my own experience in that I don't actually like or drink cola's much anymore and have switched to mostly ginger ale for my carbonated-sugar-water hit. I also felt somewhat uncomfortable after consuming even one can or bottle. In the course of reviewing this information, I also thought that cola's were a lot lighter in color when I was much younger. They seemed to have gotten much darker, almost to the point of being black.

So the food coloring looks likes it is caramel food coloring that has a high acid resistance. And it appears that soft drinks use a version that is made in a sulfite ammonium process. The chemical properties of this compound are discussed on a website by Sethness-Roquette who could be considered an expert in the field since they have been producing caramel coloring for something like 200 years. They commented that the demand for a stronger caramel colouring evolved in the soft drink industry and would help explain the darker color in today's cola's.

Double strength Caramel Colour was originally developed for use in dietetic beverages as it reduces the caloric content contributed to the beverage by the Caramel Colour to about 25% of that contributed by a single strength colour. However, double strength Caramel Colour also offers greater cost efficiency, which has contributed to its rapid acceptance.

So it seems that the "Ernie the Accountants/Bean Counters" are responsible for the changes in cola's and dark root beer. Surprise! Surprise!

And now I have a possible answer as to why our GM doubled over in pain after consuming cola's. His frame is smaller than most and he is quite lean. I'm thinking his body was telling him that it preferred that he not feed it poison. When you examine the MSDS sheet for Ammonium Sulfite, the uncut version is "Very hazardous in case of ingestion". So I really am no expert and don't know what safe levels of this "rat poison" would be to make caramel coloring but it does help point ou that cola's have changed over the years.

Our same GM comments that when he wants to clean up the tarnish and stuff on his old putter, he just lets it sit in a glass of cola and the acid takes care of the old tarnish. Cola's have been known to eat the varnish off of a coffee table, so use a coaster please.

An interesting aside on this post is a conversation that I had with a friend regarding this subject. He looked at the picture of the cola and said "Doesn't that look refreshing?" He wanted a drink right away. My response was that I felt the opposite. It looked more like road-tar to me and was not appealing. There is quite an age difference between us.

So I don't suggest that this information is conclusive or that cola's are bad for you but I do think I will continue to stay away from consuming them because this does make me feel rather uneasy about the product. In fact, one of my favorite drinks (How to make a DRC) will now become a DRG or DR7 or a DRS. It also helps explain why we shifted to soda instead of cola later in the day when we consumed way too many DRC's in a visit to the wonderful island of Barbados.

For me, the choice is better safe than sorry. You will have to make up your own mind as to whether or not cola's are OK to drink. If I do choose to drink a cola, it will be in very small quantities as a bare minimum. I never did trust accountants and I trust them even less now since they have found another way to improve a company's bottom line and possibly at the expense of the consumer. I wonder if they drink a lot of cola?


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      Brian P. Rabbit 8 years ago

      Interesting article. One point I'd like to make. You said, "So it seems that the 'Ernie the Accountants/Bean Counters' are responsible for the changes in cola's and dark root beer. Surprise! Surprise!" However the original quote reads, "However, double strength Caramel Colour also offers greater cost efficiency, which has *contributed* to its rapid acceptance." (Emphasis added by Me.) "Contributed" is different than "been the sole reason". To say the Accountants and bean Counters are responsible for the change is slightly misleading. [I presume this was merely an oversight. You clearly have a civic focused Mind and I trust Your motivation for this article is to inform with no intention of deception.]

      Apart from that little nit, as I said, interesting article.

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      Mr Grumpy 8 years ago

      F&B Manager has a dark complexion. Could it be the caramel? Going to blame his vertical challenge on that too?