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For years, researchers have been studying whether soft drinks affect our health and appearance. Last January, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the conduction of a new study analyzing whether or not caramel coloring, an additive that gives Coca-Cola and Pepsi its trademark color and taste, is unhealthy. This research comes at the request of Consumer Reports, which recently published a study that found extreme 4-methylimidazole levels in several different sodas from five major manufactures.
4-methylimidazole, also known as 4-Mel, is possibly a carcinogen. Both the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the State of California consider the chemical cancerous, and California has decreed restrictions on food and beverage manufactures to limit the caramel coloring inclusion in the products so consumers are only daily exposed to 29 micrograms of 4-Mel. If foods in California exceed this restriction, they have to package their product with a warning label.
Consumer Reports randomly selected and analyzed soda from California manufactures, and found that a can of Pepsi One exceeded the 29 micrograms levels, but lacked the requisite consumer warning label. The Consumer Reports study also found that soft drinks outside of California, like in a New York Pepsi One, are drinking caramel coloring levels that are four times more than the 29 micrograms restriction in California. A spokesperson for PepsiCo Inc. dismissed the data by stating their statistics show that on average only a third of a soda can is consumed daily, and that third of a serving meets the California restriction. According to Beverage Digest, the average U. S. soda drinker consumes 1.3 cans a day.
The FDA does not have any federal limits on caramel coloring in foods and beverages. Based on the research results, they will consider requiring companies to list caramel coloring in ingredient lists so at least consumers are aware they may be ingesting 4-Mel. This consideration is at the urging of Consumer Reports, who are also urging the agency to impose a maximum level requirement, and to revoke the “natural” label from products containing caramel coloring.
Regardless of FDA’s findings, Consumer Reports’ concerns are just one among many recent reports indicating soft drinks are unhealthy. In a case study published by the General Dentistry Journal last May, it was found that over-consuming diet soda could cause the same severe tooth erosion that has often been associated with certain types of illicit drug abuse. The commonality between drugs and soda is an extreme high level of acid that erodes tooth enamel, making teeth vulnerable to breakage, cavities, and browning. In 2012, the Harvard School of Public Health published findings that men who drink a soda a day over a 22-year period may increase their heart attack risk by 20 percent. While these studies are disturbing, they do not dictate that you have to cut soft drinks out of your life completely. These studies all deal with heavy and abusive use of soda, and in a fast-paced, fast-food world filled with Big Gulps and Super Sizing, it is important to monitor our intake and only enjoy a coke every now and then. That is, if you have to have soda at all.
This article brought to you by Watts Family Dental, your friendly Overland Park Dentist. We’re committed to healthy smiles for the whole family. Please call (913) 338-3384 or visit our Overland Park, Kansas office. You may also send an email direct to firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.