Controversial study claims cancer-causing carcinogen found in pop

Researchers are warning about a cancer-causing chemical found in some brands of pop.

The study was conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Researchers say they found high levels of a known carcinogen, 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), in samples of Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi.

The chemical is used to give pop its caramel coloring.

Some states, like California, have limits on how much of 4-MI products can contain without requiring a warning label. In California, the limit is 29 micrograms, but researchers say they found samples of Pepsi and Coke that had more than 140 micrograms.

The FDA says these levels are still too low to lead to an increased risk of cancer. The FDA says someone would need to drink 1,000 cans of pop a day to be at risk.

The American Beverage Association released the following statement in response to the study:

"This is nothing more than CSPI scare tactics, and their claims are outrageous. The science simply does not show that 4-MEI in foods or beverages is a threat to human health. In fact, findings of regulatory agencies worldwide, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Food Safety Authority and Health Canada, consider caramel coloring safe for use in foods and beverages. CSPI fraudulently claims to be operating in the interest of the public's health when it is clear its only motivation is to scare the American people."

Researchers from the Center for Science in the Public Interest admit that there are more important ingredients to worry about in pop products. They say consumers should be more concerned about sugars and high-fructose corn syrup that can lead to obesity or diabetes.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is still hoping the FDA takes action. Researchers have submitted a petition asking the government to ban 4-MI.

The FDA says they will review the petition, but the products are still safe to drink.

You can read more about the study by clicking here. (For mobile or tablet users go to

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