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Study: Caffeine May Add Zing to Cola, But It Doesn't Add Flavor

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In its response, the NSDA asserts that 25 people is too small a test group to draw any meaningful conclusions. But, as Griffiths tells WebMD, "almost all of the taste studies that have reported taste-detection thresholds with caffeine have been done with sample sizes smaller than 25, including studies that the soft drink industry cites to support their claim [that caffeine improves the flavor of the soft drink]."

The NSDA also claims that by taking 50 samples at one sitting, the tasters might have suffered from "flavor fatigue," and that the six participants who were cigarette smokers "should have been disqualified because most smokers have desensitized taste buds."

"Too few people were tested, too little science was used in the testing and too much opinion is contained in the conclusions," Nedelman says in the written statement. "This is an exercise in scientific self-promotion, not a meaningful presentation of scientific evidence. It is yet another personal attack on the industry by a researcher who has a personal axe to grind when it comes to caffeine."

Griffiths tells WebMD that he isn't calling for a ban on caffeine, but that he does support recommendations for more accurate labeling of caffeine on food products. "That's really the message to physicians and consumers alike: Caffeine really is a mood-altering drug, and people need to be informed about it and accord it respect, [and] come to understand how it affects them when they take it and when they fail to take it."

 

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