Most Common Soda Color Could Pose Health Risk
FDA taking closer look at caramel color
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2014 1:40 AM CST
Updated Jan 24, 2014 5:40 AM CST
The FDA says it is conducting new studies of the safety of caramel coloring in soft drinks and other foods, even though previous research has shown no identifiable health risk.    (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

(Newser) – The caramel color widely used in soft drinks contains a chemical that could be dangerous to your health but isn't listed in the ingredients, a Consumer Reports investigation finds. Some kinds of caramel color—the world's most widely used food coloring—contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical known as 4-Mel, sometimes in levels high enough to warrant putting a warning label on cans of soda, tests on leading brands revealed. Samples of sodas including Pepsi were above the level believed to have a 1-in-100,000 risk of causing cancer, while Coke had much lower levels.

"There is no reason why consumers need to be exposed to this avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food and beverages brown," a Consumer Reports toxicologist says. Only two of the four types of caramel color contain 4-Mel, so the consumer advocates have urged the FDA to both set a federal standard for the chemical and require manufacturers to specify what kind of caramel color they are using. The FDA says the report has spurred it to take a closer look at caramel color to see if regulatory action is needed, Food Safety News reports.

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Showing 3 of 28 comments
American Beverage Association
Jan 27, 2014 8:29 AM CST
First and foremost, consumers can rest assured that our industry's beverages are safe. Contrary to the conclusions of Consumer Reports, the FDA has noted there is no reason at all for any health concerns, a position supported by regulatory agencies around the world. Also, readers may be interested to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says “a consumer would have to drink more than 1,000 cans of soda a day to reach the doses administered that have shown links to cancer in rodents.” This finding builds on in-depth scientific research conducted over decades, which has determined there is absolutely no evidence that caramel color, used in colas as well as many other foods, causes cancer in humans. That said, the companies that make caramel coloring for our members' soft drinks are now producing it to contain less 4-MEI, and nationwide use of this new caramel coloring is underway. In sum, the ingredients in beverages are thoroughly tested and consumers can have complete confidence in the safety of these products.
FarmerMichael
Jan 26, 2014 1:25 AM CST
Aspirin couldn't pass a cancer bit or FDA approval if it wasn't grandfathered in for being older than the FDA. How many tons of that do we take a year? Quantify such statements in ways that folks can understand. Like it increases the base line change of cancer by what percentage.
TwoSheds
Jan 25, 2014 12:21 AM CST
It is just burned sugar. It is in almost everything that has been cooked.