Coca-Cola says a new soda it just released in Japan ended up with some fiber in it — please note that this isn’t another crazy recall notice, though. In fact, the fiber was added on purpose to this beverage, which is being marketed as the company’s healthiest soft drink yet, and brave soda drinkers can now find it on shelves under the product name Coke Plus.
The company gave an earlier warning about Coke Plus back in February. The official press announcement promised a no-calorie soda with “five grams of indigestible dextrin.” It let Coke’s Asia-Pacific director of product development — a certain Dr. David Machiels, who came dressed in a white lab coat to help burnish his science credentials — list the purported health pros of drinking fiber. Among them: Consuming one Coke Plus a day (à la a multivitamin) can help “suppress fat absorption” and “moderate the levels of triglycerides in the blood.” It looks like the company has already started passing samples of fiber Coke out to reporters, so maybe soon somebody will address how putting roughage in soda affects the taste. The odds seem high that it won’t improve mouthfeel, though.
In 2007, Coke actually introduced a Plus variant in several countries that was fortified with vitamins and minerals (it even carried the same name). Japanese consumers didn’t love it, but the reception in America was especially brutal. Problem was, the FDA sent Coke a threatening letter explaining that Plus violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act — any product with that word on the label must contain at least 10 percent more nutrients than comparable products. Coke felt Plus complied with those regulations, but bottles started disappearing from stores in 2011, anyway. But Coke brags that this newer version is the first-ever Coca-Cola product approved by the Japanese government as a so-called “food of specified health use,” an indication it supposedly reserves for products that have “clearly proven” health benefits.