The safety of soda is put into question by a new study.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest claims a study links a carcinogen to popular soft-drinks. According to the CSPI a new chemical analyses have found that “Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke, and Diet Pepsi contain high levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), a known animal carcinogen.” The study explains that the carcinogen forms when ammonia or ammonia and sulfites are used to manufacture the “caramel coloring” that gives those sodas their distinctive brown colors, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit watchdog group that commissioned the tests. CSPI first petitioned the FDA to ban ammonia-sulfite caramel coloring in February 2011.
Officials from the FDA and the American Beverage Association (ABA) quickly rebuked the idea that the chemical poses a risk to consumers. “Time and again, and even very recently,” the ABA wrote in its statement on the report, “leading public health organizations have reaffirmed that caramel coloring, including the trace amounts of [4-MI] found in it, is safe for use in colas and countless other foods.” A Vanderbilt University biochemist told Time‘s Bryan Walsh that 4-MI would only increase a person’s risk of cancer if he or drank 1000 cans of cola per day.
CSPI collected samples of Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Diet Dr Pepper, and Whole Foods 365 Cola from Washington, D.C.-area stores. Pepsi’s products had 145 to 153 micrograms (mcg) of 4-MI in two 12-ounce cans. Regular Coca-Cola had 142 mcg per 12 ounces in one sample and 146 mcg in another. Diet Coke had 103 mcg per 12 ounces in one sample and 113 mcg in another.
To put those levels into context, the state of California has a 29-microgram benchmark for 4-MI. Levels above that in a serving of food or beverage may be required to bear a warning notice. Based on California’s risk model, CSPI estimates that the 4-MI in the Coke and Pepsi products tested is causing about 15,000 cancers in the U.S. population
This is not the first news story to link dangerous chemical to soda. Back in December news resurfaced that a flame retardant chemical, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), was found in Mountain Dew and other popular sodas (Squirt, Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange, Powerade Strawberry Lemonade and Fresca Original Citrus). BVO is banned in Europe and Japan
According to Environmental Health News, BVO contains “bromine atoms which weigh down the citrus flavoring so it mixes with sugar water” instead of floating to the top. BVO is also added to polystyrene foam cushions in furniture and plastics in electronics because BVO can slow down the chemical reactions that cause a fire.
BVO gained approval back in 1977. At that time the FDA set what they thought was a “safe” limit for BVO in sodas. Since then soda makers can legally use BVO.
Like BVO, CPSI, believes its time to reevaluate the science behind allowing carmel colorings that contain 4-MI. The CPSI stated that it:
“reiterated its call to the Food and Drug Administration to revoke its authorization for caramel colorings that contain 4-MI, and in the interim to change the name of the additive to “ammonia-sulfite process caramel coloring” or “chemically modified caramel coloring” for labeling purposes.”
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