"What Coke Contains": the Incomprehensibly Complex Process in Making a Can of Coca Cola

#Food

Tue, Mar 5th, 2013 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Kevin Ashton has put together this elaborate article that looks at the process involved in making Coca Cola, a relativistic cheap product with an "incomprehensibly complex" production process.

Coca-Cola is made from a syrup produced by the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta. The main ingredient in the formula used in the United States is a type of sugar substitute called high-fructose corn syrup 55, so named because it is 55 per cent fructose or “fruit sugar”, and 42 per cent glucose or “simple sugar” — the same ratio of fructose to glucose as natural honey. HFCS is made by grinding wet corn until it becomes cornstarch. The cornstarch is mixed with an enzyme secreted by a rod-shaped bacterium called Bacillus and an enzyme secreted by a mold called Aspergillus. This process creates the glucose. A third enzyme, also derived from bacteria, is then used to turn some of the glucose into fructose.

The second ingredient, caramel coloring, gives the drink its distinctive dark brown color. There are four types of caramel coloring — Coca Cola uses type E150d, which is made by heating sugars with sulfite and ammonia to create bitter brown liquid. The syrup’s other principal ingredient is phosphoric acid, which adds acidity and is made by diluting burnt phosphorus (made by heating phosphate rock in an arc-furnace) and processing it to remove arsenic.

A much smaller proportion of the syrup is flavors. These include vanilla, which is the fruit of a Mexican orchid that has been dried and cured for around three months; cinnamon, the inner bark of a Sri Lankan tree; coca-leaf which comes from South America and is processed in a unique US government authorized factory in New Jersey to remove its addictive stimulant cocaine; and kola nut, a red nut found on a a tree which grows in the African Rain Forest (this may be the origin of Coca-Cola’s distinctive red logo).

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