The British Soft Drinks Association has moved to dismiss claims that caffeine is present in some soft drinks purely to make them more addictive to consumers.

A report in yesterday's (7 January) Sunday Times told of an experiment in Australia where, after over 1,000 tests, scientists concluded that consumers could not detect any difference in the taste of soft drinks whether there was caffeine in them or not.

The scientists, at Deakin University in Victoria, suggested that caffeine was being put into soft drinks in order to "modify consumer behaviour".

"The level of caffeine found in 500ml of soft drink is enough to trigger the types of psychological and physiological responses that lead to addictive behaviour," one of the scientists was cited as saying in the report.

Speaking to just-drinks today, however, a spokesperson for the BSDA claimed the experiments were not representative of how caffeine is used in the production of soft drinks. "Caffeine is used in soft drinks as a flavouring." the spokesperson said, "It's part of the recipe of some - not all - soft drinks and, in some cases, has been used in those recipes for over 100 years."

The spokesperson cited research published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse last year, which concluded that: "Caffeine use meets neither the common sense nor the scientific definitions of an addictive substance."

The spokesperson also said: "Even if this were the case, it should be understood that the amount of caffeine in a soft drink is very small."