That Pepsi and Coke 'pose no health risk'

PHOTO: That Pepsi and Coke 'pose no health risk'

WASHINGTON - United States regulators said soft drinks from PepsiCo and Coca-Cola posed no health risk, contrary to a US watchdog group's report that several popular brands contain high levels of a chemical linked to cancer.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said it found unsafe levels of a chemical used to make caramel colour in cans of Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Dr Pepper Snapple Group's Dr Pepper, and Whole Foods' 365 Cola.

The group then asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban caramel colouring agents that contain the chemical known as 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MI. This follows a similar plea last year.

The FDA said it was reviewing the group's petition, but the drinks were still safe.

"A consumer would have to consume well over a thousand cans of soda a day to reach the doses administered in the studies that have shown links to cancer in rodents," said Mr Doug Karas, an FDA spokesman.

The cans were all taken from stores in the Washington, D.C. area, and some had levels of 4-MI near 140 micrograms in each 12-ounce can, the watchdog group said. The state of California has a legal limit of 29 micrograms of 4-MI, it added.

The FDA's limit for 4-MI in caramel colouring is 250 parts per million (ppm). That caramel would then be diluted when put in soda. The highest levels of 4-MI found by CSPI were about 0.4 ppm, according to Reuters calculations.