Fatwa on Soft Drinks: Coca-Cola: The Real Things?

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Fatwa on Coke and Soft Drinks
By: Mujlisul-Ulama of South Africa
Soft Drinks
Coca-Cola: The Real Things?
Investigative Report

The proportions in the accompanying recipe are based on the analyses of Coke quoted above and Merory's recipes. The amount of caffeine agrees with that stated in Coca-Cola's So you asked about soft drinks... pamphlet; this is about a third of the caffeine found in the trial analyses.

The following recipe produces a gallon of syrup very similar to Coca-Cola's. Mix 2,400 grams of sugar with just enough water to dissolve (high-fructose corn syrup may be substituted for half the sugar). Add 36 grams of caramel, 3.1 grams of caffeine, and 11 grams of phosphoric acid. Extract the cocaine from 1.1 grams of coca leaf (Truxillo growth of coca preferred) with toluol; discard the cocaine extract. Soak the coca leaves and kola nuts (both finely powdered; 0.37 gram of kola nuts) in 22 grams of 20 percent alcohol. California white wine fortified to 20 percent strength was used as the soaking solution circa 1909, but Coca-Cola may have switched to a simple water/alcohol mixture. After soaking, discard the cola and the kola and add the liquid to the syrup. Add 30 grams of lime juice (a former ingredient, evidently, that Coca-Cola now denies) or a substitute such as a water solution of citric acid and sodium citrate at lime-juice strength. Mix together 0.88 gram of lemon oil, 0.47 gram of orange oil, 0.27 gram of lime oil, 0.20 gram of cassia (Chinese cinnamon) oil, 0.07 gram of nutmeg oil, and if desired, traces of coriander, lavender, and neroli oils, and add to 4.9 grams of 95 percent alcohol. Shake. Add 2.7 grams of water to the alcohol/oil mixture and let stand for twenty-four hours at about 60ºF. A cloudy layer will separate. Take off the clear part of the liquid only and add to the syrup. Add 19 grams of glycerin (from vegetable sources, not hog fat, so the drink can be sold to Orthodox Jews and Moslems) and 1.5 grams of vanilla extract. Add water (treated with chlorine) to make 1 gallon of syrup.

Yield (used to flavor carbonated water): 128 6.5 ounce bottles.

Coca-Cola: The Real Things?

Coke is 99.5% sugar water. water


For color. Without it, Coke would be as clear as 7-Up. caramel
For the kids' hyper kinetic rush. caffeine
Responsible for acidic tang and science-fair projects where Coke digests hamburger. phosphoric acid
Utterly superfluous: Leave out the coca and the kola, and the drink tastes the same. California white wine can be used for the alcohol. coca leaf

kola nut 20% alcohol

The Real Thing no longer contains real lime juice. lime juice (or substitute)
Citrus and spice oils, not kola nuts, make Coke taste the way it does. There may be traces of coriander, lavender, and neroli oils, too. lemon oil

orange oil lime oil cassia oil nutmeg oil 95% alcohol

A preservative. glycerin
Slight cream-soda nuance. vanilla extract

The amount of kola in this recipe, or in any cola, is tiny. Some colas are reported to contain none at all. By this recipe, a gallon of cola is made from 0.37 gram of kola nut. But a gallon of 128 fluid ounces, and each ounce can flavor a bottle of finished, carbonated beverage. So the amount of kola nut used in making a bottle of cola drink is about 3 milligrams. That tiny speck is merely soaked in alcohol and then discarded, only the alcohol going into the cola syrup.

Many Coca-Cola drinkers swear that the drink tastes different in various parts of the country. Coke's standard answer is to blame the mineral content of the water used by the bottling plants. (Now that the syrup plants have the option of using corn syrup for part of the sugar, the Coke in regions where they so use corn syrup ought to taste different from, probably not as good as, the Coke where only cane sugar is used.) Where soda fountains still make Coke from syrup, another variable is the "throw", the amount of carbonated water added to the syrup. Southerners tend to like Coke on the syrupy side.

Is There Cocaine in Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola was not always alone in its use of coca. There were coca elixirs and beverages before there were colas. Until 1903, Coca-Cola contained the full cocaine content of its coca extract. Since then, Coca-Cola has taken great pains to remove the cocaine from the coca leaves before they go into merchandise no. 5. According to one source, there were sixty-nine imitations of Coca-Cola still containing measurable cocaine in 1909.

One version of the chestnut about putting an aspirin in Coca-Cola says that the cocaine is thus precipitated. (The more usual version holds that the aspirin-Coke mixture acts as a Mickey, the opposite of what would be expected from cocaine.) Of course, the Coca-Cola Company bristles at any suggestion that there might still be cocaine in the drink.

Even before 1903, the amount of cocaine in Coca-Cola was trifling. One analysis put the cocaine content of an ounce of Coca-Cola syrup, in the pre-extraction days, at 0.04 grain (2.6 milligrams).

Extracts from "Utusan Konsumer #298, March 1994"

HARAM: Coke contains alcohol, according to book

Coca-Cola may contain alcohol. This clearly makes it haram (prohibited for consumption) to Muslims.

CAP stumbled upon this shocking fact while scrutinising the drink's "secret" formula exposed in a highly detailed book published recently.

The author of the book came across the original recipe on a yellowing piece of paper marked "X" in a company archive.

Alcohol was one of the ingredients listed in the recipe.

The discovery of this closely kept formula was reported in the British Sunday Times on August 1 last year.

Coca-Cola denies the recipe is genuine. But when the Sunday Times produced a cola based on the formula, it fooled several experts into believing it was "the real thing".

To date, the company has not denied that there is alcohol in the drink.

For more than a century, the makers of Coca-Cola have refused to reveal its contents, even under two judges' order.

In 1977, when the Indian government demanded to know the formula, Coca-Cola withdrew from the country rather than reveal it.

On their secret depends a global turnover of close to a reported £9 bil (RM37 bil). Coca-Cola sells in 185 countries worldwide, including Malaysia.

CAP's check on all Coca-Cola drinks sold here shows: that alcohol is not mentioned on the label at all.

This could well mean that under the guise of secrecy, Muslims could be drinking alcohol without knowing it!

Our study also shows that stripped down to its essentials, Coke is just a "Real Nothing" spiced up with plenty of harmful ingredients.

COCA-COLA, popular soft drink sold here, may contain alcohol, says an informed researched, Mark Pendergrast.

A recently published book: by him lists the "secret" century-old formula.

Among the ingredients mentioned in the formula is alcohol.

This makes the drink haram (prohibited for consumption) to Muslims. But Muslims have no way of knowing this since the label does not mention alcohol at all!

The recent Coke revelation has cast a thick shadow of doubt over Coca-Cola's contents. The Quran and the Hadith say that when there is such a doubt, the food is considered haram and must be shunned.

Coca-Cola has all these years, kept their formula and process of manufacture a secret. Because such information is withheld, Muslims could be drinking alcohol, something which their religion strictly forbids.

Utusan Konsumer brings you the exclusive details.

Coke contains alcohol, according to book

Citrate Caffein 1 oz
Ext Vanilla 1 oz
Flavouring 2 ½ oz
F. E. Coca 4 oz
Citric Acid 3 oz
Lime Juice 1 Qt
Sugar 30 lbs
Water 2 ½ Gal
Caramel sufficient
Mix Caffeine, Acid and Lime Juice in 1 Qt boiling water. Add vanilla and flavouring when cool.


Oil Orange 80
Oil Lemon 120
Oil Nutmeg 40
Oil Cinnamon 40
Oil Corlander 20
Oil Neroli 40
Alcohol 1 Qt
Let stand for 24 hours.

The above is the secret formula for Coca-Cola, a popular soft drink that sells in 185 countries in the world, including Malaysia.

A best-kept secret for over a century, this sacred formula, said to be the original recipe for Coke, was discovered by author Mark Pendergrast on a yellowing piece of paper marked "X" in a company archive.

His findings, published in a book called For God, Country and Coca-Cola in July last year, has grave implications for consumers, especially Muslims.

Our inspection of the formula given, found alcohol, a substance which is haram (prohibited for consumption) to Muslims.

This is a gross violation of over a hundred years of public trust.

The exposure of its sacred formula shows that, under the guise of secrecy, Coca-Cola may be misleading many Muslims into consuming alcohol without knowling it.

By doing this, Coca-Cola has trodden on the religious sensitivity of Muslims.

The Quran and Hadith clearly forbid Muslims from consuming food with doubtful ingredients. A food is considered haram when there is doubt as to its contents (see "What the Quran and Hadith say").

According to an Aisaweek article (20.10.93), members of Indonesia's Council of Ulamas have recently issued what may have seemed a declaration of the obvious: that even a drop of alcohol was forbidden to Muslims.

But Muslims have no way of knowing what exactly that was taking in when they drink Coke because its formula and process of manufacture have until now, remained a secret.

For more that a century, the makers of Coca-Cola have refused to reveal its contents, even under two judges' order.

In 1977, when the Indian government demanded to know the formula, Coca-Cola withdrew from the country rather than reveal it.

On their secret depends a global turnover of close to a reported £9 bil (RM37 bil).

Coca-Cola has denied that the recipe is genuine. But when the British Sunday Times (which reported the matter on August 1 last year) produced a cola based on the formula, it fooled several experts into believing it was "the real thing".

The Sunday Times invited 20 experts to sample 6 brands of drinks, among them Coke, Pepsi and Actonola (the coal the paper brewed on the formula found).

Asked to identify Coke, 2 experts correctly picked Coca-Cola, and 3 picked Actonola.

Meanwhile, our research shows that there could be another haram ingredient in Coke, besides alcohol.

The Sunday Times' recipe for Actonola uses glycerin, a clear, thick liquid used as a solvent for oily chemicals, especially flavourings, that are not very soluble in water.

In Pendergrast's book, it was mentioned that an earlier formula for Coke (described as "a reasonably accurate guestimate of the current mixture" by Pendergrast) given in a 1983 book, Big Secrets, by William Poundstone, also uses glycerin.

To date, Coca-Cola has not denied that there is glycerin (or alcohol) in the drink.

But if glycerin is present, then it could also be haram to Muslims.

Glycerin is a by-product of oils and fats obtained in the manufacture of soaps and fatty acids.

If the fats are from pig or other animals sources, and the animals has not been slaughtered according to Islamic procedures, the fat (which is later used in food) is haram to Muslims.

The possible presence of alcohol and glycerin in Coke poses another disturbing question: What other dubious ingredients are there in Coke?

As long as secrecy rules the trade, consumers will never know.

Fraser & Neave (Malaya) Sdn Bhd vice-president and general manager, Lim Teow Wan recently mouthed a home-truth (though he did not intend it so) when he said: "Coca-Cola must be reinterpreted for each new generation" (Star, 25.12.93).

We couldn't agree more.

In the light of these revelations, CAP advises Muslims in Malaysia to be cautious and not to fall for the soft drink's latest advertising theme, "Always Coca-Cola".

If what is revealed by Mark Pendergrast is true, this means that children could be consuming alcohol too. It is a common practice for parents to give Coke to young children.

What the Quran and Hadith say

Doubtful things are haram:

"An-Nu'man in Bashir reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "What is lawful is clear and what is unlawful is clear, but between them are certain doubtful things which many people do not recognise. He who guards against doubtful things, keeps his religion and honour blameless. But he who falls into doubtful things, falls into what is unlawful, just as a shepherd who pastures his animals round a preserve will soon pasture them into it." [Bukhari and Muslim]

Muslims should know what they are eating:

"O messengers, eat of what is good and act righteously." [Al Quran XXII: 51]
"You who believe, eat of the good things We have provided for you." [Al Quran II: 172]

(In the case of Coke whose ingredients are a secret, Muslims have no way of knowing whether what they are drinking is good or bad. It is best to abstain from it.)

Coke may breach food laws

Legal sources say that the findings of Mark Pendergrast, if established, raises several serious concerns.

• Most importantly, Coke may then be guilty of the following offences under our food laws. Alcohol content: Under Regulation 348 of the Food Regulations 1985, a soft drink "shall not contain any added alcohol".

• No label on alcohol: The failure to mention on the label at all may be in clear violation of Regulation 11(1)(d) which says that any food which contains added alcohol must state on its label the words, "CONTAINS ALCOHOL", in capital bold-faced lettering which is not smaller than 6 points.
Alcohol in other cola drinks too?

The Coke story raises the question of whether other brands of colas too contain alcohol and other dangerous ingredients.

Industry sources say this appears likely as they are prepared in the same way, using more or less the same types of ingredients.

Avoid all colas and soft drinks.
This article appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Daily, 7-May-1993
Coca-Cola. The original recipe for Coca-Cola has been called America's best kept secret. The company says that the formula is in a bank vault, but the author of the new book called For God, Country and Coca-Cola states that he has found it in the company archives. He came across the formula in a packet of papers that belonged to John Pemberton who invented Coca-Cola 107 years ago. The recipe included citrate caffeine, extract of vanilla, seven flavoring oils, fluid extract of coca (cocaine), citric acid, lime juice, sugar, water, caramel and alcohol. Evidently the cocaine was removed in 1903. Coca-Cola continues to dominate the scene after 107 years, and the profits from the sale of it have been enormous.

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