If you're a big fan of fizzy drinks, be they diet or regular, you might want to keep an eye out for this ingredient.
Keep an eye out on the label of your next fizzy drink purchase for the ingredient 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), which has been linked to cancer. Research from a team of scientists, backed by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, has found that 4-MEI is a carcinogen that is present in caramel food colouring, a common ingredient in colas and other dark soft drinks.
Keeve Nachman of the CLF said that "this unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel colouring in soda". However, the report stopped short of naming any soft drinks that were better or worse than others, as the levels of 4-MEI in the different beverages tend to vary greatly, and there were 110 samples used, not a large enough number to make definitive statements about particular brands.
According to i100, concerns over this ingredient were raised several years ago, and some manufacturers changed their recipe in order to avoid having to put cancer warnings on their labels in California, but the drinks were believed to have remained the same in Europe.
The new findings have caused plenty of concern, with renewed calls for some form of action to be taken to reduce the risk that people are being exposed to, and to let people know about the dangers of certain ingredients in their foods. Urvashi Rangan, executive director for Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center said that the "new analysis underscores our belief that people consume significant amounts of soda that unnecessarily elevate their risk of cancer over the course of a lifetime", and that both the manufacturers and regulatory or government authorities should be doing more.