Friday October 9th, 2015 2:54AM

FDA takes another look at caramel coloring in soda

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration says there's no reason to believe that the coloring added to sodas is unsafe. But the agency is taking another look just to make sure.

The agency's announcement comes in response to a study by Consumer Reports that shows 12 brands of soda have varying levels of 4-methylimidazole an impurity found in some caramel coloring.

The FDA says it has studied the use of caramel as a flavor and color additive for decades but will review new data on the safety of 4-methylimidazole. The agency did not provide details about the data.

"These efforts will inform the FDA's safety analysis and will help the agency determine what, if any, regulatory action needs to be taken,"said FDA spokeswoman Juli Putnam.

There are no federal limits on the amount of 4-methylimidazole in food and drink. The substance is formed in some caramel coloring at low levels during the manufacturing process. The FDA says it also can occur in trace amounts when coffee beans are roasted or some meats are grilled.

The Consumer Reports study urged the agency to set a maximum level of the substance when it is artificially added to foods or soda, to require labeling when it is added and to bar products from carrying the "natural" label if they contain caramel colors.

"There is no reason why consumers need to be exposed to this avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food and beverages brown," said Consumer Reports' Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and lead investigator on the study.

Though studies have not been conclusive about whether 4-methylimidazole is a carcinogen, California includes it on the state list of carcinogens and a state law mandates a cancer warning label on products that have a certain level of the substance. In reaction to that law, Coke, Pepsi and other soft drink makers have directed their caramel-color suppliers to reduce the levels of 4-methylimidazole. It is not found in all caramel colorings.

Over an eight-month period, the study found that single 12 oz. servings of two beverages purchased in California, Pepsi One and Malta Goya, exceeded the 29 micrograms of 4-methylimidazole that are the threshold per day in California but carried no warning. Consumer Reports has asked the California attorney general's office to investigate; a spokesman for the attorney general says the office is reviewing the request.

PepsiCo spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez said the company is "extremely concerned" about the study and believes it is factually incorrect.

Gonzalez said the average amount of soda consumed daily by those who drink it is less than the 12-ounce can Consumer Reports used as its basis for measurement. As a result, she said people are not exceeding the limit of 29 micrograms a day.

But PepsiCo did not provide details about how it arrived at its conclusions of daily soda consumption.

"All of Pepsi's products are below the threshold set in California, and all are in full compliance with the law," she said.

A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could not point to any recent data on daily consumption of all sodas, but Beverage Digest, a trade publication that tracks the industry, says per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the U.S. is 1.3 cans of soda a day.

The drinks tested were Sprite, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Dr Pepper, Dr. Snap, Brisk Iced Tea, A&W Root Beer, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi One and Goya Malta. Consumer Reports said there was no significant level found in Sprite, and consistently low levels were found in Coke products.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 9 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 9 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 9 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 9 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 9 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 9 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 9 months ago )
Local/State News
Chaos in the House: McCarthy withdraws candidacy for speaker, GOP vote postponed
WASHINGTON (AP) — Confronting insurmountable obstacles, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suddenly withdrew from the contest for speaker of the U.S. House on Thursday, shocking colleagues just before the...
11:26PM ( 3 hours ago )
Isakson, Perdue attack part of bill they say sides with Ala. in water wars
Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue Thursday urged Senate leaders to remove language in the Energy and Water appropriations bill they say is a direct attack on Georgia in its ongoing water dispute with Alabama.
By AccessWDUN staff
6:56PM ( 7 hours ago )
D.A.: Moran gets life without parole in Gainesville taxi driver murder
A Gainesville woman was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday in murder of a Gainesville taxi driver earlier this year.
2:34PM ( 12 hours ago )
Rehabilitative Industries of Northeast Georgia ring-in month-long awareness celebration
Thursday morning area civic and business leaders joined RING staff members at their Athens Street headquarters to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
12:22PM ( 14 hours ago )
Gainesville Police investigate reported robbery
Gainesville Police are investigating what was reported as a robbery in the parking lot of an Athens Street business Wednesday afternoon.
12:18PM ( 14 hours ago )