Carcinogenic Caramel Color in Your Cola?

Caramel Color in Pepsi

Limiting consumption of colas is a horn we’ve been tooting here for years. The high amount of sugars is one reason, but some of the other ingredients are no less problematic. Phosphoric acid, for example, leaches calcium from the bones. And now, more evidence is emerging that the industrial caramel coloring used to brown your cola may be used in quantities that exceed California’s definition of carcinogenic.

You could make your own caramel color at home by melting sugar in a saucepan over high heat. But making it on an industrial scale is a different animal. In some cases, the chemical process involves the use of 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), a carcinogen.

Consumer Reports checked for the presence of this carcinogen in soft drinks, and found that in some cases, such as Pepsi One, the levels of “4-mel” were alarmingly high. You can read the entire story here.

Consumer Reports is urging the FDA to define a maximum allowable level of 4-mel in caramel coloring. Until that happens, beware when you see products that list caramel coloring or artificial coloring as one of their ingredients.

  • Utopia


  • Healthy

    Keeeeep aaawAy from sodas!!!!!

  • overseaschinese

    Actually, normal burnt sugar caramel is not used in cola drinks only because of its stability. Once phosphoric acid is removed from the formulation, burnt sugar caramel would work fine (because acidity isn’t high anymore). Though the brownish colour may not be as intense, but at least it’s the right direction.

  • Laura

    I think the high fructose corn syrup is even worst! Well I havent drink a soda in over 7 years!!