What’s in your soda could be deadly!
There are many delicious things made from caramel, such as ( dessert). Caramel is made by burning sugar, which turns it into a sticky sweet mess that you just know is absolutely delicious. But caramel coloring isn’t quite the same as the gooey goodness we all love, but the coloring you find in sodas and other foods can actually be quite dangerous for your health!
The Dangers of Caramel Coloring
Coca Cola and Pepsi are both a rich, dark brown color thanks to the caramel coloring that they contain. For some reason, this coloring is what makes these soft drinks so popular. When the companies tried to release clear versions of their dark sodas, the products tanked and were quickly discontinued.
Up until recent years, the caramel coloring in soda was considered just one more additive, a fairly harmless one at that. After all, it was made from caramel, and caramel is a fairly harmless substance–albeit one loaded with sugar. However, it looks like caramel coloring is actually a lot more dangerous than you might think!
A report was published in Consumer Reports earlier in 2014, stating that caramel coloring is likely to contain a chemical called 4-MEI, or 4-methylimidazole. Quite the mouthful, right? The chemical has been proven to be a carcinogen, meaning that it increases your risk of tumors and cancer cells developing in your body. Definitely something you want to stay away from if you want to stay healthy.
READ MORE: Coke and Nuts Smirnoff Cocktail
What is 4-MEI?
4-MEI is a compound that is formed during the production of the caramel coloring, which means you’ll find it in most products that have that rich brown color. Think Coca Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and Root Beer, to name a few.
Back in 2007, the National Toxicology Program discovered that long term exposure to the chemical caused serious harm to adult mice. Both male and female mice were tested, and were found to have an increased risk of lung cancer thanks to the 4-MEI. In fact, this discovery led to California adding caramel coloring to the Proposition 65 list, a list containing all foods which “could” be harmful in large doses. Proposition 65 requires all California vendors to add warnings for these harmful ingredients, even if the product contains minimum amounts. It’s a way to ensure that consumers can be safe, as well as educated as to what’s in the products they consume.
Interestingly enough, Pepsi One was the product containing the highest–read: dangerous–traces of 4-MEI. Coca Cola didn’t contain enough of the caramel coloring, but the Pepsi product had levels that were potentially dangerous, according to Consumer Reports. The organization actually petitioned the FDA to not only set a federal standard for the use of caramel coloring and 4-MEI, but also require manufacturers to actually list what type of caramel coloring is used in their products. Right now, soda makers like Pepsi and Coke aren’t forced to list the type of coloring, but changing the legislation can help to protect us against the 4-MEI in caramel coloring.
How can you be safe? For now, stay away from any sodas or food products that list caramel coloring as one of their ingredients. Already you want to avoid sodas, as they’re loaded with sugar and promote fat gain. Now, not only is avoiding soda the smart thing to do for weight loss, but you can avoid a lot of carcinogens if you stick with clean water. At the very least, no caramel coloring in your soda!