FDA Studying Safety of Caramel Coloring in Soda

A Consumer Reports study finds high levels in some beverages

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images/Flickr RF / Getty Images/Flickr RF

The agency is investigating the ingredient after a Consumer Reports study found many sodas with levels of 4-methylimidazole that are questionable. The report included  12 soda brands from five different makers sold in California.

Research on the safety of the caramel coloring isn’t consistent, but in California, the chemical is considered a carcinogen and is supposed to be labeled if the amount passes a threshold of 29 micrograms. In the Consumer Reports analysis, two soda products — Pepsi One and the beverage Malta Goya — had levels beyond 29 micrograms. And according to the Associated Press, companies like Coke and Pepsi have asked suppliers to reduce the labeling threshold.

(MORE: Healthy Lifestyle Ads From Big Soda: Hypocritical or Helpful?)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is looking into the matter, but so far, the Associated Press reports, decades of studies on the chemical show there is no known health risk to humans. The FDA will consider new data to determine whether consumers’ exposure to the coloring is affecting their health. The chemical can also form when meat is grilled and coffee beans are roasted.

[AP]

1 comments
MaureenBeach
MaureenBeach

The overarching takeaway here for consumers is that our industry’s beverages are safe – a fact that is supported by decades of scientific analysis and regulatory approvals. Also, leading public health organizations have reaffirmed that caramel coloring, including the trace amounts of 4-MEI found in it, is safe for use in colas and countless other foods. Contrary to the conclusions of Consumer Reports, the FDA has noted there is no reason at all for any health concerns, and has specifically said a consumer ‘would have to drink more than a thousand cans of soda in a day to match the doses administered in studies that showed links to cancer in rodents.’ However, the companies that make caramel coloring for soft drinks are now producing it to contain less 4-MEI, and nationwide use of this new caramel coloring is underway.