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.
As you continue to weigh the risks and benefits of using your cell phone, in light of the recent World Health Organization announcement that the phones may lead to cancer, consider how scared you are of pickled vegetables, gasoline and magenta dyes.
These are just some of the substances also lumped in the same group of "possible carcinogens," formally known as "group 2B carcinogens" on the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer's list of known, likely and maybe-likely suspects.