I don’t care what color my Diet Coke is, but please don’t change the taste! NBC Nightly News reported, “Something a lot of us take a lot of in, caramel coloring, the stuff that makes Coke and Pepsi and other soft drinks so dark. … A consumer group says some versions of caramel coloring contain chemicals that could cause cancer and should be banned.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking the Food and Drug Administration to “ban the ‘caramel coloring’ used in Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other soft drinks.” The CSPI contends that the coloring is “contaminated with two chemicals, 2-methylimidazole (2-MEI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI),” which it says are produced with “ammonia and cause cancer in test animals.” According to the Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog, the CSPI filed a petition with the FDA on Feb. 16, calling for a ban on the “two cancer-causing chemicals.”
Reuters quoted from a statement released by the CSPI in which the organization said that although soda’s greatest health threat is obesity, the chemical reaction in the caramel coloring “may be causing thousands of cancers in the US population.” The watchdog group substantiated its claim by referencing animal studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program. Notably, the study results prompted NIH researchers to send a letter to the FDA, urging the agency to prohibit the use of 2-MEI and 4-MEI, which caused lung cancer in the laboratory mice.
Meanwhile, WebMD reported that “representatives from the beverage industry and from the Coca-Cola Company” rejected the CSPI’s claims that the “additives are dangerous.” In a statement to WebMD, Coca-Cola contends that “4-MEI ‘forms normally in the ‘browning reaction’ while cooking, even in one’s own kitchen.’” California, however, has “added 4-MEI to its list of carcinogens and is pursuing legislation that requires any product containing elevated levels to carry a warning label.”
According to ABC World News, the American Beverage Association “said it is suing the State of California to get the chemical off its cancer list. Meantime, the FDA tells us tonight that it and the World Health Organization is already studying the chemical and its potential effect on humans.
From the American Association for Justice news release.