Soft Drink Biz Blasts Caffeine Study

Tuesday, August 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) — A tiny study suggesting that caffeine is added to colas not for flavor but to hook consumers prompted a giant response Monday from the soft drink industry, which called the results flawed and irresponsible.

Caffeine ``is added for one reason, for flavor,'' said Jeff Nedelman, a spokesman for the National Soft Drink Association.

The study's authors, from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, said about 70 percent of soft drinks sold nationwide contain caffeine and likened the marketing of caffeinated colas to the tobacco industry's early claims that the addictive stimulant nicotine was added to cigarettes for flavor.

In their study of 25 adult cola drinkers, participants were given cola samples at six different settings and asked to distinguish between the caffeinated and non-caffeinated sodas based on taste alone. Just two said they could detect the taste of caffeine in amounts similar to those added to colas such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola Classic.

The results appear in August's Archives of Family Medicine, an American Medical Association publication.

``I'd like to see the soft drink industry come out of denial about the role of caffeine in their products,'' said lead researcher Roland Griffiths. ``They're adding a mildly addictive, mood-altering drug, one which surely accounts for the fact that people drink far more sodas with caffeine than without.''

Hogwash, countered the National Soft Drink Association, a trade group representing U.S. companies that make, market and distribute more than 95 percent of the soft drinks sold nationwide.

``Too few people were tested, too little science was used in the testing and too much opinion is contained in the conclusions,'' the association said.

Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which helped fund the study, agreed the study was too small to draw sweeping conclusions.

``I don't agree with the conclusion that caffeine should be lumped with nicotine,'' Leshner said.


On the Net: