Coke Modifies Coloring to Avoid Cancer Label

California cracks down on substance in caramel additive
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2012 4:59 PM CST

(Newser) – Coca-Cola has begun switching to a new caramel coloring—it won't be a noticeable change—to avoid being forced to slap cancer warnings on its soda in California. The chemical that delivers the distinctive color includes a substance called 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MI. In 2011, California decreed that certain levels of 4-MI were carcinogenic. Coke could either modify its formula or print the cancer warnings, reports NPR.

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"The company did make the decision to ask its caramel suppliers to make the necessary manufacturing process modifications to meet the requirement of the state of California," says a spokeswoman. Coke insists its product is and always has been safe, and the FDA notes that someone would have to drink more than 1,000 cans a day to reach dangerous levels of 4-MI. Click for the full story and NPR's audio version. (Read more Coke stories.)

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