Lemonade and Fanta don’t test positive for Covid-19

18 January 2022
What was claimed

Lateral flow tests show a positive result with drinks including lemonade, Coca Cola and Fanta.

Our verdict

This is inaccurate. Testing soft drinks can return what appears to be a positive result, but this is a misuse of the test and returns an invalid result.

A Facebook post with four thousand shares shows a picture of eight lateral flow tests. Each has been labelled, suggesting they have been tested with different things including different soft drinks, water, and one which was tested with a “real swab”. 

The tests labelled ‘real swab’, ‘water’ and ‘Diet Coke’ show a seemingly negative result, while the tests that are labelled with ‘lemonade’, ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘Fanta’ show seemingly positive results. Two of the tests show extremely faint or undecipherable results. 

The post doesn’t make a clear written claim, but the image appears to imply that lateral flow tests are unreliable.

We have written many times before about the use of things like fruit shoots, diluted cordial, ketchup and even fruit and tap water on lateral flow tests. There have been posts on social media showing that these things can produce a seemingly positive test result. However, this doesn’t mean that the tests are inaccurate or can’t detect SARS-CoV-2—the substances have simply broken the tests and produced a meaningless result. 

Dr Alexander Edwards, associate professor in Biomedical Technology at the University of Reading, previously told Full Fact: “If you completely ignore the manufacturer’s instructions or in fact use the test for something completely different, then you shouldn’t really be surprised if you get a silly result.”

Image courtesy of Annie Spratt, via Unsplash.

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