This week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit Washington-based watchdog group on nutrition and food safety, once again pushed the Food and Drug Administration to look at the chemicals – or “caramel coloring” – that turn cola brown.
The CSPI’s petition asks the FDA to ban caramel colorings that are produced by an ammonia or ammonia-sulfite process and contain 2-methylimidazole (2-MI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MI). The petition, originally filed on February 16, 2011, claims both 2-MI and 4-MI are “carcinogenic in animal studies.”
The animal studies linking 4-MI to cancer in lab mice and rats prompted the state of California to officially list 4-MI as a carcinogen on January 7, 2011, under California’s Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. There have been no studies thus far on the chemicals’ risk to humans.
The most recent call to arms from the CSPI comes after the watchdog group found a sampling of colas, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, surpassed the allotted 29 milligrams of 4-MI per day under Proposition 65.
CSPI also urged the FDA to change the “caramel coloring” label to “chemically modified caramel coloring” or “ammonia-sulfite process caramel coloring” to avoid any confusion with consumers over the coloring’s makeup.
“When most people see ‘caramel coloring’ on food labels, they likely interpret that quite literally and assume the ingredient is similar to what you might get by gently melting sugar in a saucepan,” said CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson in a public statement.
The statement continued, “The reality is quite different. Colorings made with the ammonia or ammonia-sulfite process contain carcinogens and don’t belong in the food supply. In any event, they shouldn’t be obscured by such an innocuous-sounding name as ‘caramel coloring.’"
But reviews of the data by the FDA and American Beverage Association found the causation between caramel coloring and the risk of cancer to be insufficient.
"This is nothing more than CSPI scare tactics, and their claims are outrageous. The science simply does not show that 4-MEI in foods or beverages is a threat to human health," responded the American Beverage Association in a news release.
The beverage association also noted that, "In fact, findings of regulatory agencies worldwide, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Food Safety Authority and Health Canada, consider caramel coloring safe for use in foods and beverages. CSPI fraudulently claims to be operating in the interest of the public's health when it is clear its only motivation is to scare the American people."
The FDA lists caramel coloring as "generally recognized as safe" or “GRAS.” Regardless, members of the beverage association – including Coca-Cola – will modify the coloring so they can continue to sell their products in California without a cancer warning label.
“Our member companies will still use caramel coloring in certain products, as always. The companies that make caramel coloring for our members' soft drinks are producing it to meet California's new standard,” the beverage association said in a separate statement.
“Consumers will notice no difference in our products and have no reason at all for any health concerns.”
In 2011 when the CSPI first filed the petition, former director of the Vanderbilt University Center in Molecular Toxicology and well-known toxicologist F. Peter Guengerich spoke to ABC News.
“If you look at the study in terms of what the mice got, in terms of causing any effect, a human being would have to drink more than 1,000 sodas a day,” he said.
Today, his opinion remains the same.
Guengerich said in a statement this week, “The amounts of 4-MI consumed in beverages (and food) is extremely low compared to the high, long-term levels given the mice and rats, and extrapolation of either any harmful or beneficial results from these rodent models to humans at this time is not scientifically valid.”
I remember this same argument with saccharin (the pink packets). There was evidence that it caused cancer, the government banned it, and in a an unprecedented outcome, the product was put back on the market due to public demand for the product. Don't be deceived here. The FDA doesn't really care about anyone. It will bend in favor of business just as easy as not. The correct response, in my opinion, would have been, we don't care what business and the people want. When it comes time to defend health, the FDA should stand its ground.
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I drink nearly 8 cans of soda a day, i have had soda since i was 4, i don't have cancer.
What about diabetes?
Ooo, do you still have real teeth?
Nope. They're holograms.
I don't drink alcohol nor do I use any drugs (other than prescribed by my physician - one which caused hives). I'm going to drink my one coke per day. Something will get me eventually. If it is a coke, I die with a smile on my face. Screw the studies - they change daily. One day java is bad for us, the next day the so-called experts are telling us to "drink up!"
"Does cola cause cancer": Well you can be very sure that if it does, the evidence for that will either never be released or be attacked by big business scientific prostitutes. Have a Coke and a smile ... with your cancer.
Thanks and I will! I'm sure you do nothing bad for your body Voltairine.
I don't need to do anything bad with my body with so many self-important people that arrogantly believe that they have control over my body, like anti-abortionists.
its not the carmel coloring in Coke and Pepsi that's the problem – its the Coke and Pepsi itself that is the problem. They are nothing more then liquified sugar and diabetes through a straw.
It's the sugar. Cancer feeds on sugar.
Living causes cancer.
California should put a warning label on the sun .
They should put a warning label on the sun.
They should put a warning label on California.
Ha ha! Enter at your own risk!
I try to limit the amount of cola the rats at my house drink to one can a day. They don't like it, but I'm the boss and they're just rats.
I once ate bacon and then drank a coke. I felt like I died but then I came back through the power of the belch.
Do not like it do not buy it. Simple as that
Who cares? what doesn't cause cancer these days? I swear half of the wires and devices I buy have cancer warnings on them. I mean by stepping out into the sun I'm risking myself to melanoma.
...pent-up stress...killer to the body. Sigh.
Sperm is a known carcinogen. It attacks and messes up the DNA of regular (non-egg) cells too.
The lack of any kind of basic understanding of science in almost all of the posts here is astonishing, and makes me fear even more for the future of our country, and of civilization in general. That, coupled with the fact that most of you cannot construct a complete sentence, or bother to check spelling or grammar, makes me want to puke (that is a term deliberately chosen so that some of you might be able to understand).
If you believe that sodas are bad for you, do not drink them. If you believe that they are benign, enjoy. Just don't force me to comply with your views. And please stop making up information about particular ingredients in Coca-Cola (or other soft drinks) which will kill you. It doesn't enhance your argument. Too much water, for instance, will kill you dead.
For those of you who equate a single incidence of disease with a particular (suspected) cause: you are lacking in any basic understanding of scientific principle, and any understanding of statistics and probability. The set of statements along the lines of:
1) My sister drank 5 Coca-colas per day for 20 years
2) My sister died of (insert disease here)
3) (Disease named) is caused by Coca-cola
is complete and total rubbish.
One can substitute trans-fats, or fluorides, or bacon, or any other substance, in this line of reasoning, for Coca-Cola, and the idiocy is not changed. This is the kind of simplistic and false reasoning foisted upon us by bureaucrats who deny scientific precepts, and who twist scientific and logical reasoning to fit a political agenda. If you think that CNN and the politicos in power can't twist science to fit their agenda, you are an unthinking moron.
I'll give you a parallel example. I haven't had a soda in at least 25 years, I don't smoke, and I don't eat fast food. I studiously avoid trans-fats, control my sodium intake, and limit my intake of saturated fats. I exercise regularly. I eat lots of dark green and leafy green vegetables, lots of whole grains, raw nuts, lentils, and beans; I limit my meat intake.
SO: I have (an unspecified type of) cancer. So does this negate all of the dietary research which indicates that my dietary practices should be healthy?
And for you complete and total morons who think that clinicians somehow don't know what cancer is, I feel for you when you are diagnosed. Knowing what the disease is, versus what causes it, or how to cure it, are different things.
You people all need to get (and appreciate) a life, and you need to learn how to think in a logical and reasonable manner. Surviving cancer, as I am doing, is a process. It is NOT a magic bullet provided by ObamaCare. It is a result of a reasoned, scientific approach, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. It's sort of like being struck head-on in an automobile accident–sometimes you survive, and sometimes you don't. We still kill tens of thousands of people per year in the United States in those little incidents, but there is no psuedo-science applied there.
Learn to think. Otherwise, we are all doomed. I fear, from reading these comments, that it is too late.
Lighten up, bud. Have a coke and a smile.
Simply the best response post that has ever been published. Thank you. Maybe someday people will post like this more often and the world will have real conversations. I'm not holding my breath.
Your expecting way too much of people. I have been reading peoples responses to articles on CNN for years and the vast majority of comments are simplistic, myopic and just plain crazy. Most peoples opinions are very narrow and idiosyncratic.; their solutions are one dimensional and just plain stupid. Some are so skewed that they are actually funny.
Some are just straight up funny.
Agreed. Sometimes I read posts just for the pure entertainment.
Thanks Matt. "Why me? Why not?" I appreciated your humor with your knowledge. Best of luck with your treatment/LIFE.
Thank you! The cause and effect concept is way beyond your common layman. I keep trying to explain that if you eat chicken on Tuesday and contract the flu on Wednesday you did not necessarily contract the flu from your chicken.
People are to stupid tp know what's best for them. The in the tank with Obama Media & Obama admin. is pushing this crap on the public. Everybaody should make 2/9/12 QTR POUNDER FRIES & COKE DAY
It's one thing to knowningly choose to put something like that in your body. It's another one altogether to find out that they are using something most people would consider unacceptable on the label of a FOOD ITEM.
In case you don't remember from school, Ammonia is generally considered a dangerous chemical, I'm wondering how many people would look at a label that says "Trace amounts of amonia sulfate present from processing" and actually buy it?
This is similar to saying that there are trace amounts of sodium and chlorine in your foods (which are also dangerous chemicals) instead of listing salt (NaCl) on the food label. It's scare tactics, pure and simple.
Sodium may be poisonous,and Chlorine may be poisonous, but Sodium Choride (Salt) is not poisonous. So trace amounts of Sodium (Na) or Chlorine (Cl) would be bad, but NaCl is not harmful at all. So I don't get your point?
Okay..chlorine and chloride are two very different chemicals. Anytime Hydrogen is added or deleted the chemical is CHANGED and what it will do to you is changed. They should list the caramel coloring as what it really is and let each person decide if they want to drink a derivative of ammonia.
David, ask anyone with high blood pressure is salt (NaCl) is harmful or not to their heath.
Who cares about the questionable danger of caramel coloring. I rarely drink soda pop, but because of a much simpler reason: Tons of sugar. I won't drink diet pop because it tastes terrible - all of it. Real soda pop with real sugar is delicious, and I lost 20 pounds in the first several weeks after I stopped drinking it daily. I tell you, soda pop is a self-inflicted wound on American culture. It is at least half of the reason we have an obesity problem. Stop listening to advertising and hype. Drink water, feel good, and get your entertainment from something other than your taste buds. Join the water generation.
Every living breathing person has the potential to develope cancer. Cancer is nothing more than a group of cells that go haywire and start to grow at an abnormally fast pace. That is cancer. Our cells are constantly growing...multiplying. At any time, a cell can mutate.....and boom.....cancer has arrived. So, use your common sense. Cig smoking also causes COPD...which is just as bad as cancer. If you dont believe me, hold your nose closed, put your hand over your mouth and trying taking a deep breath. That is what COPD feels like.
Since cancer is essentially unmitigated growth of cells, we have to and should wonder what the residual growth hormones in plant and foods that we eat ultimately does to us–cancer has increased exponentially since the advent of gene splicing and bioengineering of the late 1970s.
I don't drink coke, pepsi or any of them. It just seems like common sense to me that they're bad for you. They can do all the tests they want but I'm not about to change my mind either way..
Also, keep in mind that there are MANY things that may show no signs of causing cancer until you test it when it's mixed with something else like alcohol, or cigarette smoke and then suddenly it becomes very cancer causing.. More so then alcohol or cigarettes on their own.
Haha, can we not do anything these days without it killing us? I mean really. "Oh, darling don't eat that delicious brownie mix off of the bowl! You'll get E. Coli !!"
Jack & what? I like my Jack and Coke. The Jack will kill the harmful additives. But when I want "a little" I want my Jack straight up!
Remember when the tobacco companies claimed for years that nicotine wasn't harmful...yeah...how's that workin' out.? "Big Agra" like "Big Tobacco" will thow millions at the FDA and come up with the same arguments (read "But reviews of the data by the FDA and American Beverage Association found the causation between caramel coloring and the risk of cancer to be insufficient") OF COURSE THEY DID IT IS THEIR JOB TO FIND THIS. Don't believe their hype any more than you would believe the tobacco companies. Just drink water and seltzer water and flavor with lemon, etc., it tastes far better anyway.
Jack & what? I like my Jack and Coke. The Jack will kill the harmful additives. But when I want mucha sexo I want my Jack straight up!
"When most people see ‘caramel coloring’ on food labels, they likely interpret that quite literally and assume the ingredient is similar to what you might get by gently melting sugar in a saucepan,” said CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson in a public statement.
No... I don't assume that at all. I think most people that bother to read ingredient labels have been hip to food company's "word crafting" for some time. But thanks for assumming that I'm stupid.
Thank God for stricter laws in California. Lots of things in sodas are bad for you. The sugar is bad for your teeth and is extremely bad if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Aspartame is a terrible chemical with a strong acid that hurts your stomach. I now drink water, from the tap, bottled, or fancy Perrier, and drink soda very rarely. Probably much better off for it.
Yup. While you're at it, Applebee's is going to get you a free dinner if you forward this to 1,000 people in the next 3.8 seconds. Hurry!
Well, uh, Diet Coke has no sugar. Aspartame is a harmless chemical and is not the least bit acidic. Thanks for your comment.
Aspartame is a harmless chemical???
Aspartame causes cancer.
Nope. Zero data linking aspartame to cancer. And this has been thoroughly tested.
If I wanted to drink alien slug goo, I would drink Mountain Dew. Buzz cola is superior!
Has anyone ever investigated whether laboratory mice and rats are born with cancer? Or perhaps that living in a laboratory causes cancer. Or maybebeing exposed to lab researchers causes cancer? I'm just curious.
For the test on the mice to be valid, they would have divided the mice into two basic groups: one that was given the chemical, the other that was given none of the chemical, and then comparing the difference in cancer rates. If living in the laboratory is the cause of the cancer in the mice, then there would be no difference in the cancerous rate among the two groups. If the rate of cancer in one group is higher than the other, then there is a plausible link between the chemical and cancer rates – in mice, under those specific circumstances.
I'm pretty sure they are comparing mice who got the compound versus those who did not receive the compound, all of whom were living in labs and exposed to researchers. So maybe 1 in 1000 mice got cancer without the compound and 3 in 1000 got it with the compound. What caused the 1 mouse to get cancer apart from the compound, hey, it could be the lab or the researchers, but that doesn't change the comparison, since both groups were in that same environment.
everything causes cancer. take your choice.
I've been drinking 5-6 cans of Coca cola evry day for the last 40 years and i do not have cancer yet!!! My teeth are all rotted out, but I don't have cancer!!
Since LIFE seems to cause cancer, I have two choices: eat and drink whatever I want in moderation OR I can crawl under the bed and curl up into a ball.
I'm okay with the latter as long as I can take my diet Pepsi with me.
So why can't the cola companies use real caramel coloring instead of a chemically altered one? Even if the study is flawed why not change to please the consumer...why will buy more as a result? They must think it would show culpability.
But BPA and phtalates have been quietly remove from baby bottle plastic even though the manufacturers claim that the research proves nothing...yet they did it anyway.
It would most likely change the flavor or the "bite" of the cola.
Well, the stuff made from sugar wouldn't work in diet colas. And I suspect it is more expensive to make than this synthesized stuff.
They are changing to something different (although maybe not "natural"), so that the CA label doesn't have to say that Cola causes cancer.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a completely bogus, lying, organization that should not be taken seriously by anybody. They are 100% responsible for the switch from healthy cooking oils, like coconut oil, to the trans fatty oils that we know know are about the worst things people can consume.
This organization has no credibility whatsoever every and anyone who listens to them is a fool.
Still do you really need that coca cola?
Ron, no I do not need coca cola. But woe be unto anyone who confiscates my diet Pepsi which I drink from the bottle via a nipple . They will quickly learn that allowing me to have it is actually in the public interest...
I maybe drink 2 or 3 soda's a year. I know I do not need them and I did not need anyone to tell me it isn't a healthy choice, especially the losers at CSPI.
Coconut oil is awesome!
Seriously people let not get carried away.. life expectancy has gone up not down and there is a reason for that. Yes some of the food we eat and drink is not healthy for you but I would hardly call it deadly. Now not having food or liquids is deadly and we are lucky to have what we have as is.
You are incorrect, within the last decade, life expectancy in America has gone DOWN significantly it has gone up only in the survival rates of infants.
If they can modify for CA, why can't they simply modify everywhere? Seems a no-brainer. I've switched to tea and coffee anyway for the most part.
Tea and coffee probably cause cancer too, don't worry. What doesn't cause cancer these days?
Turned 60 a week ago. Been drinking Coke since I was a small child. I was sick a lot as a child and Coke helps calm the stomach and keeps fluids in the body. If it was going to cause cancer then I should have developed some a long time ago. I
That's the same argument a lot of smokers used. "I've been smoking all my life and I don't have cancer!" The point is that certain chemicals increase your chance of getting cancer. It doesn't necessarily mean you WILL get cancer. It also doesn't mean you still can't get cancer sometime soon even after all this time in your case.
This is the worst kind of testimonial. "I've been doing it for years and nothing has happened to me, therefore it can't be true." I rode in my parents car without a seat belt and I am still alive, so I guess seat belts are not necessary.
Not to mention the High Fructose Corn Syrup is derived from BT corn, a genetically modified crop that is bred with insectide inside the actual food. Can't wash that off.
Sorry, but Coke is the nector of the Gods. I love it, and I won't stop drinking it. I know it's horrible for me, and I don't care. If it DID cause cancer? I'd have been dead years ago...
Hear ya . . .
Now THAT is some real science for you! I did X and Y didn't happen, therefore there is no correlation between X and Y!
On a less sarcastic note, I find no issue with anything a company wants to put in their sodas. If people want to drink their sugar syrup chemical mixture, they can reap whatever consequences may or may not follow. Though I never made a conscious effort to kick the softdrink habit, I'm quite happy to have not touched the stuff for the past 8 years.
"The science simply does not show that 4-MEI in foods or beverages is a threat to human health,"
Then why don't you list it that way as one of the ingredients?
For the same reason you list water rather than Dihydronium monoxide.
Even though it's not food the FDA should act in our interests. The problem is that making and selling cola makes a lot of money so forget protecting the public. With this much money involved it's game over.
Maybe people should take responsibility for their own health rather than someone else telling them what they can and can't intake
there is no way we, as lay people, can know or understand all the chemicals and additives that big corps put in our food. If you knew what what was in your food, if America knew what was in their food, there would be riots in the streets. The food companies are relying on our ignorance and laziness to not find out how they are slowly poisoning us for profit. Watch Food Inc, a movie, that will tell you what you are eating and the price you and I are REALLY paying for the food we eat.
Soylent Green is people.
Is there one case of cancer from cola? I think not.
And just how would YOU know if there were?
what an idiot.
Or idiot savant. How exactly would you know that cause of cancer was cola? I'm pretty sure that when the pathologist is looking under the microscope, the cancer cells don't have Diet Coke logos on them.
Many people asked the same question of cigarettes in decades past...
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