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Safety of soda questioned

Safety of soda questioned

Credit: AP

by Terri Gruca

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE


Posted on February 16, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Over the years we’ve been encouraged to limit the amount of soda we drink. Now there may be a new reason.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday to ban the caramel coloring used in Pepsi, Coca Cola and other soft drinks because researchers say it caused cancer in lab rats.

According to the organization:

"In contrast to the caramel one might make at home by melting sugar in a saucepan, the artificial brown coloring in colas and some other products is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. Chemical reactions result in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats."

There are currently four caramel colorings approved for use in foods by the FDA. The CSPI wants two of those banned.

"The National Toxicology Program, the division of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that conducted the animal studies, said that there is “clear evidence” that both 2-MI and 4-MI are animal carcinogens. Chemicals that cause cancer in animals are considered to pose cancer threats to humans. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found significant levels of 4-MI in five brands of cola."

California added 4-MEI to its list of cancer causing chemicals earlier this year, which could mean that some sodas will have to carry cancer causing warning labels.

However, the American Beverage Association vehemently denies there is a danger in using these chemicals.

Some researchers say humans would have to consume 1,000 cans of soda a day to be at risk and in other cases soda actually helped prevent cancer in male rats.

You can read more on the findings here.