Consumer groups want carcinogenic Coca-Cola ban
18 Jul 2012
CI member organisations are demanding Coke takes action to
reduce the level of a potentially cancer-causing toxin in the
Dangerous levels of 4‑methylimidizole (4-MI) have been found in
Coca-Cola sold in China, Brazil, Kenya, UAE, Mexico, Japan, the UK,
and other countries according to recent
research by the Center for Science in the Public Interest
(CSPI) in Washington, DC.
4-MI becomes carcinogenic when the ammoniated caramel colouring used to give Coca-Cola its
distinctive colouring is industrially produced, according to
The research was carried out following the introduction of
legislation in California to reduce the amount of 4-MI in Coca-Cola
sold there. Coca-Cola was instructed to reduce levels or be legally
obliged to put a cancer-warning notice on the packaging.
Now, CI members in the countries where Coca-Cola's 4-MI levels
are still deemed too high to be safe are calling on the company to
follow the example they set in California.
In Brazil, CI member
Idec published a
survey of soft drinks and energy drinks that have the
caramel-coloured chemical in its formula. The survey found that
Brazilian legislation on the subject is weak and manufacturers of
soft drinks and energy drinks are not willing to tell consumers the
amount of toxic substances in their products. For these reasons,
Idec prompted Brazilian authorities to review existing laws and
consider steps to protect consumers.
Seven more CI members in Latin America -
CDC, El Salvador;
El Poder del Consumidor, Mexico;
ASPEC, Peru; and
MIC, Venezuela - are participating in a campaign asking Coca-Cola to
stop using the chemical.
These organisations created a website and a Facebook
page, both of which have had hundreds of visitors. The campaign
has also sent letters to Coca-Cola and other soft-drink companies,
asking them to stop using the chemical.
The current limit for the amount of 4-MI in foods, set by JECFA
(an FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives), is based on
studies of the 1980s. These studies were generated by the
International Technical Caramel Association. New studies are
expected to change the current limits and laws.
Food safety, security and nutrition is a priority programme for
CI as part of the Your Rights,
Our Mission | Strategy 2015.
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