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Friday, September 7, 2012

Coca-Cola to launch Coke Zero in Kenya next week

So Coca-Cola, after taking what it deemed a misinformed beating in the press about certain ingredients in its soft-drinks, convened bloggers in Nairobi to hammer in a few home truths.

Bloggers, a yet-untamed quantity capable of terrorizing a brand online, heard terms like caramelization, enzymatic browning, emulsification, food-grade carbohydrates, subject-matter experts and a bunch of other terms that brand managers use.

The whole session boiled down to this:

1. Coke is healthy.

2. Coke will launch a brand this week that carries absolutely no calories so if you are settling down to a long session with Bacardi Black or Myers, this would be the best choice for your Rum and Coke, thus spake Peter Njonjo, the GM Coca-Cola EA.
Peter Njonjo (middle)

The Beef

In July, a consumer body in the US released a report claiming that Coke sold in places like Kenya contained much higher levels of a cancer-causing substance called 4-MethylImidazole (4MI).

Whereas in California, only 4micrograms of the 4MI are allowed in a normal 12-ounce drink, and to carry a cancer warning for any drink containing above that level, in places like Brazil, Coke was found to have 267mcgs.

Here's how different countries stack up:

The Riposte

Njonjo of Coke reckons that when we talk about additives, preservatives and so on, it will be important to understand the role of each.

For instance, while emulsifiers and stabilizers help the manufacturing process of soda, other additives are simply colours - imagine for example, drinking a clear beverage that has the taste of Fanta Orange. The colour is part of branding.

The much publicised 4MI, is but an every day by-product of heating food-grade carbohydrates much in the same way sugar heated in a pan turns brown.

This process is called caramelization and produces dark yellowish-brown colours.

"As we continue heating, there is a possibility that we get a different product like 4-MI," Philip Ndemwa, a researcher at Kemri told the bloggers.

According to Ndemwa, 4-MI is always produced in processes like cooking meat (that is why it turns brown), making Tusker Lager batches achieve an even colour and so on.

Looking Ahead

So going forward, Coca Cola will launch Coke Zero in the market next week.

It will carry out an education campaign to sensitize people on healthy living and disabuse them of the notion that Coke has too much sugar.

It is all a matter of Energy Balance, Peter Njonjo says. The number of calories that a Coke product contains will be highlighted and will possibly be accompanied by healthy tips on a number of calories burning activities.

Further stakeholder engagement with media, academia and so on will continue.

It's bottling companies have now adopted state of the art bottling processes that put bottles through two Elecronic Bottle Inspections in the filling cycle to determine if any impurity might have gotten into the product.

1 comment:

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