Is caramel coloring used in cola causing cancer?

A new petition filed to the FDA is trying to get artificial caramel coloring removed from cola and soda popDo you ever feel like living greener means giving up all of your favorite indulgences? I don’t think anyone in their right mind would say that soft drinks are good for you, but do they cause cancer? The Center for Science in the Public Interest thinks so.

They say,

In contrast to the caramel one might make at home by melting sugar in a saucepan, the artificial brown coloring in colas and some other products is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. Chemical reactions result in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats.

The CSPI filed a regulatory petition [pdf] yesterday calling on the FDA to bar the use of caramel colorings made with an ammonia process.

“Carcinogenic colorings have no place in the food supply, especially considering that their only function is a cosmetic one,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “The FDA should act quickly to revoke its approval of caramel colorings made with ammonia.”

I’m thinking that would be a good thing to have happen. Don’t you?

That said (and to go back to the question I posed at the start of this post), I’m not going to give up my lone vice that is Diet Coke.

What do you think? Is this information enough to make you pour your favorite cola down the drain? If the FDA can’t get on the ball and bar soda makers from using this seemingly harmful and pointless coloring, I vote for the return of Crystal Pepsi (circa my lunchbox in 1992).

[Photo: scelera/Flickr]

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About Jeffrey Davis

Yo, I'm Jeffrey, founder of and editor in chief here at Eco-Snobbery Sucks. I live in Nashville, TN and am a writer, personal trainer, web designer, and wookie hugger. I hang out on Twitter some but you can find me more active on Facebook. Enjoy the site!