Campaigners have called for the banning of a colouring found in Coca-Cola which is thought to be linked to cancer.
The additive called 4-methylimidazole (4-MI) gives some cola-flavoured drinks their caramel colour. But lab tests have shown that 4-MI can lead to increased cancerous tumours in animals. As of yet, no reports have shown it causes cancer in humans.
Nonetheless, after a campaign by consumer rights groups in the United States, the state of California ruled that any food or drink containing 4-MI must be labelled with a cancer warning. Consequently, Coca-Cola and Pepsi announced they would be changing their secret formulas in the United States to reduce the level of the chemical.
Now, research by the American group Center for Science in the Public Interest has shown that the amount of the chemical found in British cans of Coca-Cola is 34 times higher than those in the US drinks.
Campaigners in the UK intend to write to health ministers urging them to ban the colouring in Britain. Malcolm Clark, campaign co-ordinator at the Children’s Food Campaign, told the Daily Mail: “The Company should respect the health of all of its customers around the world, by using caramel colouring that is free of known cancer-causing chemicals.
“The UK Government must regulate to protect public health from companies that aggressively market sugar-laden drinks that lead to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”
But since the drink complies with European laws, food safety watchdogs do not consider the chemical a concern. A spokesman for the British Soft Drinks Association told the Daily Mail there was no need to ban caramel colours containing 4-MI and said:
“The 4-MI levels found in food and drink products pose no health or safety risks.”
“Outside the state of California, no regulatory agency in the world considers the exposure of the public to 4-MI as present in caramels as an issue.”
People with or without private medical insurance should eat a healthy diet with the recommended daily allowance of calories and sugar in order to avoid obesity-related illnesses.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012