[There is a followup to this post here.]

Perfectly Protein® Mocha Cappuccino with Whey Protein (PP®MCwWP for short) is one of Wm. Bolthouse Farms’s newest beverage products, and I tried one recently. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very memorable either, at least not as a drink. It was interesting to read though, and I’m convinced that either the ingredients or the nutrition facts are wrong. As of this writing, the ingredients listed here on bolthouse.com match what was on the bottle I saw: Mocha Cappuccino (Low Fat Milk, 100% Arabica Coffee, Natural Flavors, Vanilla Extract (Madagascar),Cocoa), Milk Whey Protein, Potassium Diphosphate, Apple Juice, Pectin, Carrageenan, Calcium (Tricalcium Phosphate), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Magnesium (Magnesium Oxide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Zinc (Zinc Sulfate), Iron (Ferrous Lactate), Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin). It tasted sweet to me–sweeter than milk with a splash of apple juice would probably be. The Nutrition Facts made more sense: 28 grams of sugar in 8 ounces.

Where do those 28 grams of sugar come from? I called Bolthouse to ask, saying that the ingredients didn’t seem to add up to 28 grams of sugar. Julie in Consumer Relations emailed me back to say that PP®MCwWP is naturally sweetened by the apple juice. There is no sugar added.”

Let’s figure it out. Apple juice is item #4 on the list of ingredients, after Mocha Cappucino, Milk Whey Protein, and Potassium Diphosphate. [Note: Potassium diphosphate goes by several names, including potassium pyrophosphate, tetrapotassium phosphate, and potassium diphosphate monobasic. More about potassium diphosphate and PP®MCwWP in this about.com article.] Items separated by commas have to be in descending order of abundance, so there’s less apple juice than there is potassium diphosphate. Also according to the nutrition facts, the amount of potassium in an 8 ounce serving of PP®MCwWP is 675 milligrams. If there is only 675mg of potassium per serving, there can’t be too much potassium diphosphate, because potassium diphosphate contains potassium, The chemical formula for potassium diphosphate is K4O7P2. To two significant figures, the atomic weights of potassium, oxygen, and phosphorus are 39, 16, and 31, respectively. So a mole of K4O7P2 weighs 4×39 grams + 7×16 grams + 2×31 grams = 330 grams, 4×39 grams = 156 grams of which, or 156/330, or about 47%, is potassium. If all 675mg of potassium in a serving of PP®MCwWP come from potassium diphosphate, there would be 675/0.47 mg, or a little under 1.5 grams of potassium diphosphate per serving. There could be less, but there couldn’t be more. Apple juice comes after potassium diphosphate in the ingredients, so there can’t be more than 1.5 grams of apple juice. Even if apple juice were pure sugar (which it’s not), we can’t even account for half the sugar this drink is supposed to contain. There’s at most 8 ounces of milk (12 grams of sugar) in an 8 ounce serving, and at most 1.5 grams of apple juice (less than 1.5 grams of sugar). None of the other ingredients contain sugar.

Something is wrong. My guess is that two things are wrong. First, I think there is a misplaced parenthesis. I think milk whey protein and potassium diphosphate are part of the first ingredient, mocha cappuccino. This makes apple juice the second most prevalent ingredient, not the fourth, so a serving of PP®MCwWP could be almost half apple juice. But that still doesn’t account for all the sugar, and I think a word is missing: concentrate. I think the second ingredient is apple juice concentrate, not apple juice. Apple juice concentrate is 4 times as sugary as apple juice, and just an ounce and a half could contain 21 grams of sugar. The remaining 7 grams of sugar could come from 5 ounces of milk, and there could be an ounce and a half of coffee and other ingredients.

I think the correct ingredient list is: Mocha Cappuccino (Low Fat Milk, 100% Arabica Coffee, Natural Flavors, Vanilla Extract (Madagascar),Cocoa, Milk Whey Protein, Potassium Diphosphate), Concentrated Apple Juice, Pectin, Carrageenan, Calcium (Tricalcium Phosphate), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Magnesium (Magnesium Oxide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Zinc (Zinc Sulfate), Iron (Ferrous Lactate), Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin).

I replied to Julie’s email with this analysis, but I haven’t heard back from her. [Julie replied. Here's the followup post: (link).]