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Weird Science: Soda Detectives Ask "What's In Your Cola?"

Rocket Fizz: Leninade soda

With new and ever fancier "gourmet" sodas hitting the market, consumers (presumably) want to know whether those gourmet drinks, advertised as being made with natural ingredients, actually contain natural flavoring. Now scientists think have a way to find out -- at least with cola.

Genuine cola "nuts" are the seeds from the fruit of the cola tree. They're native to African rainforests, where they're used both as edibles and for ceremonial purposes. They may even have health benefits. So some manufacturers are claiming their sodas are made with real cola and selling the drinks at inflated prices. How can you tell if these claims are accurate?

A group of scientists led by Pier Giorgio Righetti found that testing for proteins was an accurate way to verify natural flavoring claims. They detected plant proteins in a drink claiming to have "organic agave syrup and cola nut extracts" and no protein in Coca Cola, which does not claim to include cola extract.

The evidence sounds a little thin rto us, but then we're not ardent readers of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Proteome Research (talk about a page-turner), where the report appears.