| WASHINGTON, March 5
WASHINGTON, March 5 U.S. regulators said soft
drinks from PepsiCo Inc and Coca-Cola Co posed no
health risk, contrary to a U.S. watchdog group that reported
several popular brands contain high levels of a chemical linked
to cancer in animals.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said it
found unsafe levels of a chemical used to make caramel color in
cans of Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc's
Dr. Pepper, and Whole Foods' 365 Cola.
The group asked the Food and Drug Administration to ban
caramel coloring agents that contain the chemical known as
4-methylimidazole, or 4-MI. This follows a similar plea last
"Coke and Pepsi, with the acquiescence of the FDA, are
needlessly exposing millions of Americans to a chemical that
causes cancer," said CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson.
The FDA said it was reviewing the group's petition, but the
drinks were still safe.
"A consumer would have to consume well over a thousand cans
of soda a day to reach the doses administered in the studies
that have shown links to cancer in rodents," said Doug Karas, an
FDA spokesman, in a statement.
The cans were all taken from stores in the Washington, D.C.
area, and some had levels of 4-MI near 140 micrograms in each
12-ounce can, the watchdog group said. The state of California
has a legal limit of 29 micrograms of 4-MI, it added.
The FDA's limit for 4-MI in caramel coloring is 250 parts
per million (ppm). That caramel would then be diluted when it is
put in soda. The highest levels of 4-MI, also known as 4-MEI,
found by CSPI were about 0.4 ppm, according to Reuters
"Unlike CSPI, the Coca-Cola Company deals in hard facts,"
said Coca-Cola spokesman Ben Sheidler in an emailed
statement. "Fact: The body of science about 4-MEI in foods or
beverages does not support the erroneous allegations that CSPI
would like the public to believe. The 4-MEI levels in our
products pose no health or safety risks."
Sheilder added: "The caramel color in all of our ingredients
has been, is and always will be safe. That is a fact."
The American Beverage Association said in a statement: "This
is nothing more than CSPI scare tactics. In fact, findings of
regulatory agencies worldwide ... consider caramel coloring safe
for use in foods and beverages."