What wouldn't a sientific evaluation of a food product tell me?

Let’s say I work for Coke, and Pepsi puts out a new flavor of pop. I buy a case and bring it into the world’s best equipped laboratory for analysis. I tell the scientists to subject this stuff to every chemical and physical analysis known. Money is no object – smash it in a particle accelerator or fly it into orbit if needed, so I know EXACTLY what’s in it, in what proportions, and how to duplicate it.

Could they provide me enough information to do it? If not, what kinds of information would be beyond their ability to know?

*How *it was put together? Wouldn’t such an analysis essentially produce an ingredients list?

It would produce an end product analysis, but not necessarily a method to produce the exact product in a monetarily feasable way.

The secret ingredient is love!

Does it change the protein content?

The key here is, even if you can exactly replicate the product, why would you want to? “Tastes exactly like Pepsi!” is not going to be good advertising copy for Coke. You don’t want something just like your competition’s product, you want something that’s better (or at least, that you can convince the consumers is better).

One reason to duplicate a product is if you can make a good profit selling it cheaper than the other guy is selling it. The shampoo aisle has a bunch of shampoo that is advertised as if you like < some expensive brand> try this cheap brand.

That’s what I was getting at. You could know all the ingredients for coq au vin, but, absent a recipe, have a hell of a time reproducing the dish.

If you were wondering how they’d do it, I bet a GCMS, or Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer would be used. In tandem, they are used for such things as urinalysis to explosives detection. Basically, the gas chromatograph seperates the compounds into individual ions, and the mass spec gives a readout of how much of each mollecular weight was in the original sample. Wiki links below, if you’re interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_chromatograph http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_spectrometer

Thanks for your responses so far, and I get what you’re saying about a method, or a recipe, to get to a final product.

But what if the products is uniform – say a paste or liquid, or a solid like a tablet or a chocolate bar? You can assume that the components are distributed evenly throughout. Does this change its replicability?

Maybe a better way to ask this is to consider it at the molecular level. Can one be able to positively identify every type of molecule in it? If it can be identifed, can it be replicated? If the replication process is different than the original, does it matter if you just mix them all together?

Please put aside questions of economic feasibility. Assume I’m a gazillionaire indulging my curiosity.