| 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.
"If companies can make brown food coloring that is
carcinogen-free, the industry should use that."
The FDA said it is reviewing the group's petition, but that
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.
However, the group said a bigger health risk came from
high-fructose corn syrup, which is used to sweeten soda and can
contribute to diabetes.
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 found by CSPI were about
0.4 ppm, according to Reuters calculations.
"This is nothing more than CSPI scare tactics," the American
Beverage Association said in a statement. "In fact, findings of
regulatory agencies worldwide ... consider caramel coloring safe
for use in foods and beverages."