You already know that drinking soda is bad for you: it leads to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and more. But scientists have found a new link between soda and cancer, and the link lies in what gives cola its color.
It has recently been found that 4-MeI, a coloring agent found in many sodas, hides more than just the soda’s color. Colas are supposed to contain no more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI, but tests in New York and California show otherwise.
These are the maximum values of 4-MeI found on Consumer Reports initial inspection:
Coca-Cola (Classic, Diet, Zero): less than 4 micrograms
A&W Root Beer: 24.2 micrograms
Whole Foods’ Dr. Snap: 55.9 micrograms
Pepsi/ Diet Pepsi: 174.4 micrograms
Pepsi One: 195.3 micrograms
Malta Goya: 352.5 micrograms
Malta Goya is the clear winner (or should that be loser?) is this case. A case full of caramel coloring chemicals. A can full of cancer.
These tests were run before some big announcements. One of these announcements was from Nestle, saying that they were abolishing the use of artificial colors and flavors in all of its products sold in the United States. This is a step in the right direction – the healthy direction – for this brand. Did it sway the cola brands to clean up their act?
Lighten The Load
After it became law that California labels must inform their consumers if there is too much of the carcinogenic in colas, all the brands cleaned up their products. A little bit. We know that 29 micrograms is the most 4-MeI (or 4-methylimidazole) a soda should contain, but why have any?
“There’s no reason why consumers should be exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food brown,” toxicologist Dr. Urvashi Rangan, executive director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety & Sustainability Center, said in a statement.
In the next round of tests, it was clear that the cola companies had heard the complaints. Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Dr. Snap was seen to have dropped from its 55.9 micrograms of 4-MeI per can, to 9.9 micrograms. Pepsi and Diet Pepsi had less promising results.
Initial tests saw Pepsi Co.’s 4-MeI range between 24.8 micrograms and a whopping 174.4 micrograms per can. After the first test, Pepsi did not seem to improve too drastically. The highest level of 4-MeI found in the second round of tests was 32.4. This was found in New York.
“The fact that we found lower amounts of 4-MeI in our last round of tests suggests that some manufacturers may be taking steps to reduce levels, which would be a step in the right direction,” Rangan said.
The tests were ran in New York and California respectively, because there are different laws. In California, if a cola contains more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI, the can must be labelled. What should it say?
What does it say?
May contain caramel coloring
Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds too sweet. I don’t think that would turn any of our kids away from drinking sodas. Heck, I don’t even think that would turn away a discerning adult. Caramel coloring is just a way to dupe the public into swallowing this easily.
“These efforts will inform the FDA’s safety analysis and will help the agency determine what, if any, regulatory action needs to be taken,” agency spokeswoman Juli Putnam told AP.
I’ve got a few suggestions:
1. Get 4-MeI out of all our foods and drinks. It is a carcinogen hidden in our drinks to make them a distasteful brown, which is likely an improvement to their original color.
2. Stop tricking your consumers. And stop poisoning us.
3. Stop drinking colas and switch to water – better yet: lemon water.
After all the hubbub, Coca-Cola is getting on-board with lowering the levels of 4-MeI in their products. This, of course, comes after public outcry and demand. In a report put together by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), it was estimated that about 15, 000 cancers could be caused by the level of the coloring chemical currently found in drinks.
If you live in California you may already know how to stay away from 4-MeI, but if not you could be indulging in more than just a fizzy beverage. Make sure to always read the labelling on these products, as the time is coming for the brands to fall-in-line with positive well-being, instead of profit with no foresight.
How much longer will we expose ourselves, our families, to these things that are ruining our bodies and our lives?
The time to change is now.