Archive for March 24th, 2011

Cancer Scare for Coke, Pepsi Drinkers

March 24th, 2011 | 4 Comments | Source: Huffington Post

Most people know that sugary cola drinks have no nutritional benefits, promote weight gain, obesity and diabetes, and contain caffeine, a mildly addictive stimulant. Some people know these drinks contain phosphoric acid, which promotes tooth decay and bone loss, especially in females. But until last week, almost nobody knew that the artificial brown “caramel” coloring that gives cola drinks their familiar appearance contains carcinogens.

How can something as apparently benign as caramel coloring contain cancer-causing agents? Isn’t caramel coloring derived from caramel, that simple homemade treat created by melting sugar in a saucepan?

It turns out that there are several ways to create caramel coloring. The one used to create the caramel coloring found in Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other foods involves chemical processes that include ammonia. This particular process produces so-called Caramel IV and a pair of byproducts, 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which have been shown to cause cancer of the liver, lung and thyroid, as well as leukemia in laboratory animals.

The disquieting news came in the form of a regulatory petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which also called for the FDA to ban these substances from food and drinks that are consumed by US consumers. 

The petition cited studies from the National Toxicology Program which provided “clear evidence” that both substances are animal carcinogens. It also cited studies by scientists at UC Davis, which found the chemicals in several popular cola brands.

“Carcinogenic colorings have no place in the food supply, especially considering that their only function is a cosmetic one,” CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said in a press release. “The FDA should act quickly to revoke its approval of caramel colorings made with ammonia.” (more…)


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