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Mexico soft-drink tax: Could this be the end of real sugar in Mexican Coke?

Mexican Coke
Bottles of Mexican Coke fill shelves of the Tarascas Latino Supermarket in Lawrenceville, Ga.
(Ric Feld / Associated Press )

Anyone who has ever tried “Mexicoke,” also known as Mexican Coke, should understand the cult following. But lovers of the super-sweet fizzy drink may want to start stocking up.

The beverage is prized for its use of real cane sugar, but a Mexico soft-drink tax approved Thursday could lead some Coca-Cola bottlers to drop the real sugar and reach for the cheaper high-fructose corn syrup instead. 

The country’s new tax will cost an extra peso, or 8 cents, per liter on all soft-drink sales. It’s part of an effort to address the more than 70% of Mexico’s population who are overweight. 

During a conference call with analysts last week, Francisco Garza, chief executive of Arca Continental, Mexico’s second-largest Coca-Cola bottler, said the tax could cause a “move to more fructose” and that doing away with expensive sugar is an “important part of the savings that we are foreseeing now.” 

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As much as Mexicoke lovers may complain of a shift to more high-fructose corn syrup, they may not be able to tell the difference. According to a study conducted by the Keck School of Medicine at USC, “sugar” is listed on the ingredient list of Mexican Coca-Cola but lab results showed no sucrose in the beverage. In accordance with FDA guidelines, companies may only use the word “sugar” when referring to sucrose.

The tests showed an almost equal amount of fructose and glucose in the Coke, which would suggest high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. 

Do you think Mexican Coke is better than Coke bottled in America? Let us know in the comments below. 

Like fizzy drinks? Me too. Follow me on Twitter: @Jenn_Harris_

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