There is much ado about the possible cancer-causing caramel coloring in Coca Cola® but do you know it is also used as a coloring in beer and as a flavoring in ice cream, candy, baked good, root beer, ginger ale, vanilla, cream soda and many other products we eat and drink?
Caramel is a chemically ill-defined group of material reduced by heating carbohydrates, primarily sugars, with a touch of an alkali or a trace of mineral acid. Caramel is also prepared by an ammonia process which has been associated with blood toxicity in rats.
Consumer Reports said its tests of soft drinks using caramel coloring show some contain higher-than-necessary levels of a compound called 4-methylimidazole or 4-MEI, a potentially cancer-causing agent.
The Food and Drug Administration says it is taking a new look at caramel food coloring in sodas and other foods after Consumer Reports’ findings.
The International Expert Committee of The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and The World Health Organization (WHO) temporarily removed the ammonia-made caramel from the list of approved additives when the substance was found to inhibit B6 in rabbits. The FDA approved caramel as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) in 1980 without limitations. It does not have to be certified as known carcinogenic coal tar derived colorings in food must be.
Should we worry about caramel coloring and other suspected cancer-causing agents in our drinks and food?
The US National Health and Human Services, The US Public Health Service, and the US National Toxicology Program issued a 499 page Twelfth Edition of Report on Carcinogens.
The Report begins by stating: The probability that a resident of the United State will develop cancer at some point in his or her lifetime is 1 in 2 for men and 1 in 3 for women. …Most scientists involved in cancer research believe the environment in which we live and work may be a major contributor to the development of cancer…In this context the ’environment’ is anything that people interact with including exposures resulting from lifestyle choices, such as what we eat, drink or smoker…”
“Conclusions regarding carcinogenicity in humans or experimental animals”, the report continued “are based on scientific judgment with consideration given to all relevant information.”
Those experts, who participated in the report, cited dose-response and route of exposure. Well a single chemical such as caramel coloring, may be in a dose so tiny
What dose of the total of cancer-causing agents to which we are exposed will cause cancer?