Home Science Coca Cola: Do you really know what you’re drinking?

Coca Cola: Do you really know what you’re drinking?


Coca Cola is the most famous drink in the world, the most widely consumed product on the planet and is currently available in 232 countries, many more than the nations that make up the United Nations (UN).

In 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton developed the Coca-Cola formula based on the success of the famous Mariani wine, an invigorating alcoholic drink based on wine and macerated coca leaf developed by Italian chemist Angelo Mariani.

Later, the Cadler brothers bought the preparation from the pharmacist and it was they who launched the intensive advertising campaign that made the company what it is today. However, Coca Cola was first introduced commercially as an “effective tonic for the brain” and nerves. It is said that one day a man with a severe headache came into Jacob’s Pharmacy, where coca syrup mixed in water was sold, and instead of adding water, he wanted to add lemonade. The man drank his glass and so the sparkling Coca-Cola as it is known today was born.

During World War II, it became the official beverage supplier to the U.S. Army and, thanks to that government’s support, was able to spread around the world.

International Coca Cola is a company emblematic not only of Yankee imperialism, but also of something deeper and more effective in the cultural dominance it exerts over much of the world.

Composition, with effects and consequences

In 1902, Dr. Charles Crampton (1) collected several samples of bottled soft drinks, finding samples of cocaine and alcohol, according to his report to the US Department of Agriculture. Based on these findings, Dr. Harvey Washington (2) to consider coca a drug and label it a “poison due to its high caffeine content”. However, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the multinational company and only had to provide the chemical analysis of its formula during the trial.

According to AMEDEC (3), cola “represents the most serious distortion of our eating habits, as it also leads to the consumption of empty calories, i.e. without proteins, vitamins and minerals.”

10% of each bottle gives the feeling of energy, but it cannot be said that Coca-Cola is a nutritious drink. It’s the sugar more than the caffeine that’s addictive. If you ingest five tablespoons of sugar in a soda drink, the pancreas must be addicted. Ironically, when many people send lots of insulin into the blood to counteract this violent attack, this leads to a drastic drop in blood sugar levels, followed by a need for more sugar.

Likewise, caffeine, obtained from the kola nut, is a nervous system stimulant that causes annoying sensations, but when taken in large quantities can cause insomnia, palpitations, headaches and anxiety.

The large amount of sugar combined with phosphoric acid disrupts the balance of calcium and phosphorus in the body and prevents the proper absorption of iron, leading to malnutrition and anemia.

The WHO (4) tried to educate about the dangers of excessive sugar consumption. The large transnational corporations linked to sugar tried to prevent the publication of the document; Coca Cola threatened to pressure the US Congress to cut subsidies to the WHO if it did not withdraw the document.

The sugar contained in the soft drink gradually dissolves the tooth enamel, weakens it and causes tooth decay. In addition, the sugars that the body cannot absorb are converted into fats, potentially leading to overweight and even obesity.

In the case of Diet Coke, there are studies that indicate that consuming sugar substitutes in large quantities leads to brain damage, memory loss and mental confusion, with aspartame being the substance that causes these conditions.

There was a competition at Delhi University: Who can drink the most Coca Cola? The winner drank 8 bottles and died instantly because he had a lot of carbon dioxide in his blood and not enough oxygen. Since then, the university rector has banned all non-alcoholic drinks.


No one remembers it anymore, but Santa Claus was depicted in the colors green, blue, black and yellow. The reinvention of Santa Claus comes from Houddon Sundblom, a Swedish native who worked as an illustrator for the company for years, even though he didn’t like soda. The Swede had the idea of ​​portraying the character as a cheerful and friendly grandfather, but with something essential: the colors of the Coca-Cola brand.

Its sales strategy and huge advertising investments are some of the factors that make it easier to find a coca than a little water in the world’s most remote and poorest city. This company is the one that has spent the most money on advertising in history.

Through this advertising investment, Coca Cola became associated in the collective imagination with a whole range of positive values: friendship, love, solidarity, cooperation.

Moreover, according to their advertising, this drink It is the best thirst quencher and a basic supplement for practicing sports.. The billboards are becoming more aggressive and offensive. Coca no longer just removes tartar and rust from metals or nuts, but even the ugly. Legends of these great announcements include: “ You’re not ugly, you have personality. Take the good thing, Coca Cola

Given the many things that can happen when you drink a can of soda, the question arises as to what role this drink’s secret formula plays. The myth of the chemical composition of Coca is not taken into account, since the power of this brand lies precisely in everything that is associated with it and what is not physically present in the product.


On the other hand, the company has been investigated by various organizations and social movements from several countries, focusing mainly on two types of impacts: pollution, destruction of aquifers and harassment of its employees.

“As various organizations have demonstrated, the company has a history of using violence against union members in Turkey, Pakistan, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Russia and Colombia. The case of Coca’s human rights violations in Colombia was judged within the framework of the Permanent People’s Court. At this hearing they presented numerous data and documents linking the American company to the harassment and intimidation of its workers and the murder of nine union members” (Pedro Ramiro, Coca es Así, )

The allegations against the multinational, linking it to the impact on the water resources of various communities, come mainly from India.

It is currently estimated that Coca Cola has 1,145 bottling plants worldwide.

The brand requires abundant water for its operations, which means it needs to control the aquifers. The result is that it dehydrates some communities and contaminates water systems and crop fields by dumping toxic waste.

Each coca factory produces 1-2 million water a day, this amount would meet the drinking water needs of millions of people. Coca requires almost 4 liters of fresh water to produce one liter of its product. To do this, the company converts 75% of the clean water it produces into wastewater, which in turn contaminates the scant remainder that remains underground. and so on earth. The entire life cycle of coca, from water extraction to delivery of pesticide-contaminated products, is fraught with problems.

In Mexico, the multinational’s factories do not pay for the water they use, thanks to government concessions.

Coca Cola launched a bottled water brand “Dasani” into the UK market.

In 2004, the American company realized “that what this brand sells is actually regular tap water (…)”. The water of its Dasani brand comes from the national drinking water system in London, “actually reaching the cocaine in Sidcup through Thames Water pipes,” which is the British drinking water service company.

As if that wasn’t enough, the bottled water was found to have bromate levels higher than permitted levels in the UK. Although Coca advocated for better purification of Dasani water, the company eventually had to withdraw its water brand from the market.

All these activities led to the launch of several campaigns against the transnational company. A clear example of this is that the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre declared July 22nd International Day against Coca Cola. In addition, there are several boycott processes against the transnational corporation in many countries around the world. But the company cannot tolerate damage to its core assets. For this reason, it has launched a complete counter-advertising strategy and, faced with the proliferation of campaigns criticizing its advertising and contrasting it with the reality of the company’s impact, has created a website (www.killercoke.com) where all the positive impacts are explained.


The river is to the indigenous people what water is to Coca Cola…

If all the Coca-Cola made so far were put into a normal-sized bottle and placed one at a time, it would make the round trip to the moon 1,045 times, a daily trip for more than two years.

Every day, marketing options are aimed at multinational companies unconsciously and with the mindset of a consumer. However, the possibility of these promotions becoming options depends on the quantity and quality of information available about each product. But it needs to be consumed critically as this is an everyday political act.

We have the right to decide what we consume. Why should this multimillion-dollar monopoly decide on health and a decent life without anyone ever explicitly giving it that power? www.

*Carla Davico
Bachelor’s Student in Biodiversity – UNL-FHUC


(1) U.S. Government Chemical Engineer.

(2) Head of the Chemical Office of the Ministry of Agriculture.

(3) Mexican Association for Consumer Protection Studies.

(4) World Health Organization.

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