I feel vindicated. For years I’ve told my family that the Diet Coke they guzzled probably caused cancer. California recently added the compound 4-methylimidazole, also known as 4-MI or 4-MEI, to its list of known carcinogens in 2011.Coke used this compound to color its soda that brown “caramel” color. Accordingly, the company would have been required to post a cancer warning on every can sold in the state. Despite denying that this compound–or ammonia-sulfite components to caramel color, which are also present–is harmful to humans, the company has changed the formulation to avoid the cancer stigma. Not so fast, your soda is still not safe.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the FDA to also review other known carcinogens contained in the caramel coloring that companies like Coke and Pepsi use. This isn’t the caramel you make from sugar on the stove. As CSPI explains, the caramel color in soda is made by reacting sugar with ammonia and sulfites. At high temperature and pressure, these chemical reactions form 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which “in government-conducted studies, caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats.
No thanks. I’ve got my bkr full of H2O.
photo credit: Jorge Bach, CSPI