When we enjoy a refreshing bottle of Coca-Cola, Sprite, Limca, Minute Maid or any other beverage from the family, at times we skim through the ingredient label to see what makes it taste as good as it does. Generally, there are only 3 to 4 key ingredients, which leave us marvelling at the delightful concoction in every sip. But there’s a lot that goes into their making, including extensive and meticulous processes and quality checks, ensuring what we’re holding in our hand is absolutely safe for consumption.

Here is an overview of the journey that the ingredients go through, before the bottle reaches the customer.

1. Ingredient Quality:

Treatment of Water: The main ingredients in carbonated drinks are water, sugar and beverage base / concentrates. Water is passed through Multiple Barrier Treatment Systems to ensure that every beverage bottle conforms to the IS 14543 (Packaged Drinking Water), WHO Ed.4 and Coca-Colaglobal standards.

The Multiple Barriers System consist of macro- and micro- level purification of water, including processes such as sand and carbon filtration, chemical coagulation / ultra-filtration / reverse osmosis / nano-filtration to eliminate chemical and bacteriological impurities, reduce alkalinityof the water, and remove dissolved solids. Additional disinfection processes like UV treatment, chlorination of water are also undertaken. After processing, the water is ready for the next stage.

Treatment of Sugar: Simultaneously, the treatment of sugar also takes place. Sugar procured from suppliers undergoes tests from an independent 3rd party -a NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) certified and Coca-Cola India approved laboratory. This is followed by several in-house quality checks and treatment processes to bring its purity at par with our international standards. Hot Carbon treatment is applied to remove any turbidity, off odour from the sugar. To achieve this, powdered activated carbon is used which adsorbs the impurities and the colour in the sugar, which is further pasteurised with heat treatment to destroy microbes.

The secret formulas are then added into the treated sugar syrup. During this, several in-process quality checks on the colour, concentration and sedimentation are conducted. Further, routine micro-biological tests are also conducted for the syrups. The preparation of ready syrup is followed by the mixing and proportioning of the same into the final beverage for filling.

Treatment of Juice Pulp- The sugar syrup preparation and water treatment process remains the same for juices. Juice pulp is checked for quality and appearance before being added to the sugar syrup. The beverage is then homogenised and pasteurised before filling.

2. Packages Quality:

Returnable Glass Bottles (RGBs): Returnable Glass Bottles are inspected, cleaned and inspected again before being re-filled. Even the most slightly damaged RGB is rejected, and the remaining are cleaned through a 6-7 step process using caustic, water and other cleaning additives. Subsequently the bottles are passed through online electronic inspection device to eliminate undesirable bottles. Only the remainder go to the filler for filling and crowning.

PET bottles: PET bottles are blown from preforms which are made of Coca-Cola India approved resins, which undergo several quality inspections before making it to the next stage. Before filling, either the preforms are cleaned with filtered airor the blown bottles are cleaned with chlorinated water.

3. Beverage and Process Quality:

Several physicochemical and bacteriological quality checks during and after manufacturing of each lot of beverages and during and after cleaning and sanitation, are a part of the process. Frequent unannounced audits at the bottling plants are conducted by third-party professional like ISO-certification agencies, the Coca-Cola India Corporate Quality team and The Coca-Cola Company Global Audit teams to ensure compliance and adherence to highest quality manufacturing practices.

And finally, after undertaking this exhaustive journey, the beverage reaches the consumer, refreshing them with a clean, cool sensation as it percolates their taste buds. That’s the journey to ‘taste the feeling!’