caramel color

  1. The caramel color in sodas may be carcinogenic

    How cola can boost your cancer risk

    I don't think there's any such thing as a "safe" level of a known carcinogen, but here in California the safe upper limit for the chemical 4-methylimidazole is set at 30 mcg.

    Why is that important? Because if you don't live in California, you could be getting up to five times that limit every time you pop open a can of soda.

    The chemical, also known as 4-MI, is hidden in the caramel color used to give cola its distinctive look. But "caramel color" isn't extracted from candy. It's a byproduct of mixing sugar with ammonia under pressure.

    When tests found high levels of the stuff in soda, manufacturers were told they'd have to put a cancer warning on each can sold in California, as required under state law.

    So they quickly changed the formula, and a new set of tests found just 4mcg of 4-MI in cans of Coke sold in the state.

    Who says warning labels don't work?

    But while many soda makers have said they'll work to lower levels of 4-MI everywhere else, the same tests found they haven't delivered on that promise as of yet.

    Coke sold elsewhere in the United States as well as in Canada and Britain, for example, contained between 144 and 160 mcg of MI-4. And in Brazil, they found 267 mcg -- or almost nine times California's safe upper limit, according to tests conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

    The CSPI called the results "alarming" and I have to agree. But even if the soda companies managed to do away with 4-MI altogether, the drinks wouldn't exactly be health food.

    Soda is a chemical blend of sugars and/or artificial sweeteners along with coloring agents, acids, and a host of other ingredients you don't want to drink. The cans even contain BPA, a hormone-like chemical linked to diabetes, obesity, sexual problems, developmental issues, and more.

    It shouldn't take a warning label to keep you away from all that.

  2. The true risks of soda

    Sugar is probably the most dangerous ingredient in most sodas -- but I have to say "probably" here, because it's got some pretty tough competition.

    Most sodas aren't drinks so much as water mixed with a collection of ingredients that seem like they belong in chemistry kits instead of food and beverages.

    And that includes the so-called caramel color.

    As I told you last year, caramel color isn't a simple food dye, and it's nothing like caramel candy like it's name implies. It's actually the byproduct of a pressurized treatment that combines sugar with ammonia. (Yes, ammonia!)

    One of the "extra" ingredients created by this process is 4-methylimidazole, a chemical with such strong links to cancer that California law requires a warning label on anything that contains certain amounts of it.

    And many sodas contain way more than those amounts -- up to eight times what the state considers to be the safe upper limit.

    Now, soda companies trying to avoid the warning label are starting to use a new version of the color that has less 4-methylimidazole.

    But is that really worth celebrating? Soda now has less of a cancer-causing chemical?

    And let's face it, even if they managed to completely do away with caramel color -- or at least the 4-methylimidazole -- soda would still be bubbling over with cancer risk, thanks to all the sugar.

    Diets high in sugar have been linked to any number of cancers -- and if you're unlucky enough to get the disease, sugar will actually help it to grow and spread. It's like food for tumors.

    Believe it or not, the risks don't stop there.

    Sodas often contain phosphates, which can pull calcium from your bones and leave you battling osteoporosis. They can also cause kidney stones and -- along with that sugar -- rot your teeth right out of your head.

    Some sodas even contain sodium benzoate, a preservative that can cause the kind of cell damage that leads to cancer, cirrhosis, and Parkinson's disease -- just to name a few.

    And the fake sugars used in diet sodas come with plenty of risks of their own -- they've been linked to everything from cancer to migraines.

    So don't waste any time looking at the ingredients labels, trying to figure out which soda might be better than the other. Just skip them all.

  3. Diet soda linked to weight gain

    If the FDA won't go after diet sodas for all the dangerous chemicals they contain, maybe the FTC can take action for false advertising. There's nothing "diet" about diet sodas. After all, studies have linked them to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart problems, and more.
  4. Cola color in cancer link

    Soda is just about the most destructive blend of chemicals being sold for consumption today.

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