Concern that one of the most commonly consumed food colorings may cause cancer has led to changes in soft drink formulation in California.
Used as a coloring agent in products ranging from colas and beer to gravies and soy sauce, caramel coloring may be the world’s most widely consumed food coloring, helping to sell over a billion servings a day. Unfortunately, the manufacturing of certain artificial caramel colorings can lead to the formation of carcinogens, such as 4-methylimidazole, which causes cancer in mice, but not rats, or at least not male rats, but it is unclear whether humans are more like mice or rats in terms of their response to the carcinogen.
To be safe, California officially listed it as a carcinogen and started requiring warning labels on soft drinks containing more than 29 micrograms per can. The soft drink industry was unsuccessful in opposing the action, so they were forced to reduce carcinogen levels in their products, but only in California. Buy coke anywhere else and it may have up to 5 times the limit.
Remember Coca Cola's Tab Clear, though, or Crystal Pepsi? Clearly… they can do away with carcinogenic colorings altogether.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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There’s another class of additives that the soda industry uses to make its soda brown. See Phosphate Additives in Meat Purge and Cola.
The meat industry has also used potentially toxic additives for cosmetic purposes: Arsenic-containing drugs to make chicken pink (Arsenic in Chicken). Phosphate Additives in Chicken also help maintain the color of poultry. Carbon monoxide is used to keep red meat red, Acanthoxanthins keep salmon pink (Artificial Coloring in Fish).
The junk food industry uses titanium dioxide to whiten processed foods (Titanium Dioxide & Inflammatory Bowel Disease). It’s amazing the risks the food industry will take to alter appearances (Artificial Food Colors and ADHD).
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