Recipe theft and cancer scares: rounding up Coca-Cola’s bad week

Recipe theft and cancer scares: rounding up Coca-Cola’s bad week

It aint’t easy being red (Image: Ian Muttoo) 

It’s been a rough week for the Coca-Cola Company. Last Friday, U.S. public radio show This American Life announced that they’d discovered the original recipe for Coca-Cola. And just yesterday, a U.S. advocacy organization raised worries about potential carcinogenic effects of the drink. We round up this week in Coke after the jump.

The Coke recipe is a notorious trade secret, kept in a bank vault in Atlanta and accessible by only two company executives. This American Life found a copy of it in a photo from a 1979 issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which depicted the notebook of John Pemberton, the pharmacist credited with creating Coca-Cola in 1886. Collaborating with the Seattle-based Jones Soda Co., the program made a test batch on air, and was able to fool one expert into thinking it was the real thing.

Coca-Cola reps fired back this week, denying the accuracy of the leaked recipe. Spokeswoman Kerry Tressler told Reuters:

“Many third parties, including ‘This American Life,’ have tried to crack our secret formula. Try as they might, they’ve been unsuccessful because there is only one ‘Real Thing.’

The bad press continued yesterday, when the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a D.C.-based public interest group, came out swinging against the pop giant. As Slashfood reports, the group is arguing that the ingredient used to add a caramel colour to Coke “contains chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer.” Of course, this is not the first time Coca-Cola has had to change one of its ingredients—up until 1903, the drink contained nine mg of cocaine per glass.

It’s been a rough week for us, too—first (alleged) crack with our pizza, and now (alleged) cancer in our Coke.

• Original Recipe [This American Life]
• Coca-Cola says secret of its recipe still intact [Reuters]
• Could Your Cola Give You Cancer? [Slashfood]