Soda Drinkers, the FDA Is Coming for Your Caramel Coloring


Even though a health risk has never been found before, the FDA is conducting a study regarding the safety of caramel coloring. You know, the stuff in Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer and Brisk iced tea. Uh oh.

ABC News reports:

The agency’s announcement comes in response to a study by Consumer Reports that shows varying levels of 4-methylimidazole — an impurity formed in some caramel coloring at low levels during the manufacturing process — in 12 brands of soda from five manufacturers.

Cool, cool. Um, by the way, what is 4-meth-ablahblah?

Though studies have not been conclusive about whether 4-methylimidazole is a carcinogen, California includes it on the state list of carcinogens and a state law mandates a cancer warning label on products that have a certain level of the substance.

Oh, shit.

In reaction to that law, Coke, Pepsi and other soft drink makers have directed their caramel-color suppliers to reduce the levels of 4-methylimidazole. It is not found in all caramel colorings.

Oh, phew?

But wait:

Over an eight-month period, the study found that single servings of two products purchased in California, Pepsi One and the beverage Malta Goya, exceeded the 29 micrograms of 4-methylimidazole that are the threshold in California but carried no warning.

Not cool.

Now listen, if you don’t drink soda, do not chime in with “that’s why I don’t drink it” or “glad I don’t drink it” because fuck you, okay? This is not about you. This is about us, the people who love soda.

It’s a terrible and difficult road to travel when you’re a soda drinker. Only those of us who struggle with addiction — be it Coke, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi or DDP — know how tough it is to wrestle with the sparkly refreshing sweet elixir of dental stain and tooth decay. One minute you’re kicking it cold turkey, vowing to be healthier, the next you’re craving the caffeine fix or sucking it down at the movies because nothing goes better with popcorn. Those of us of a certain age grew up thinking soda was actually maybe sort of good for us, in a way. Innocent times. Anyway. Guess I’m off the wagon again. (She typed while guzzling a can of Coke.)

Image by LI CHAOSHU/Shutterstock.

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