The Coca-Cola Co. is looking for a natural sugar substitute and wants you to help.
The beverage giant has launched a competition on the crowd-sourcing platform HeroX, seeking "a naturally sourced, safe, low- or no-calorie compound that creates the taste sensation of sugar when used in beverages."
The company Website says, "one grand prize winner will be awarded $1 million in October 2018."
Experts say what’s driving the new campaign is a dramatic decline in the consumption of sweetened beverages in recent decades, with the growing scientific evidence of the role excessive sugar consumption plays in the obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
The hunt for a sugar substitute dates back at least to the 1963 introduction of the diet cola Tab, which was sweetened with the artificial chemical saccharin.
Since then, other fake sweeteners have been used to replace sugar in drinks and foods, but questions have been raised about their safety.
Coca-Cola is seeking a molecule/compound that can be safely used to sweeten food and beverages. It must be completely new, natural, and may not contain or be derived from Stevia or Lo Han Guo (Monk Fruit).
“We are not asking participants to taste or consume novel substances or substances that have a toxicity that is unknown,” the company Website posting says.
“In fact, the Coca-Cola Company is expressly advising participants not to taste or consume any substances not approved for human consumption. Rather, the Coca-Cola Co. is seeking a molecule/compound that has scientific data to support its safety for human consumption over a prolonged period.
“The substance must perform as well as sucrose (sugar) in most attributes — taste, performance, safety, cost, and consumer perception/acceptance.”
Although Coca-Cola will “independently seek regulatory approval for use of the substance in food and beverages from the relevant regulatory authorities in various countries,” participants in the contest must provide “any and all known information” they have regarding:
- Any health, regulatory, or commercial restrictions for using the sugar substitute;
- Discovery, development, or usage of the sweetener by any indigenous people of the country or geographic region where it occurs naturally; and
- Any person or entity having any intellectual property rights or potential claim of intellectual property rights to the material.
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