Cancer Risk Due to Caramel Coloring in Soda

         The risk of cancer in caramel coloring


An analysis has determined that the chemical process during the making of the caramel coloring used in soda produces a carcinogen that could dangerously raise the risk of cancer.


Tests were done on eleven different soft drinks and the researchers found that twelve ounces a day of soda would be enough exposure to potential cancer-causing chemical of 4-MEI.


4-MEI is formed during the making of the caramel color that is added to many of the most popular soft drinks.


California has stepped forward and made soft drink manufacturers carry warning labels if they have enough 4-MEI to pose a cancer risk.


Consumer reports tested 110 samples of different soft drinks led by a team from John Hopkins Center, and they found 4-MEI levels in ranges from 9.5 mcg per liter to 963 mcg per liter.



The researchers found that most 4-MEI levels ran consistent across the board with most major brands that were purchased in the same area, however, across the country 4-MEI levels varied considerably by the state it was purchased in.


The researchers also found that if the average person routinely consumed soda, it can result in 4-MEI exposers greater that 28 mcg a day. That is the level they determined triggers a new case of cancer in every 100,000 people who consume soda. This toxicity level was established by studying the levels in rats proven by the US National Toxicology Program.

The study found that not enough data was established to recommend one brand over another in terms of 4-MEI levels.


The test involved studying the drinking patterns from all types of soft drinks and they broke the types in five groups.


  1. Diet Soda
  2. Soda
  3. Pepper Soda
  4. ‘Other’ Soda
  5. Root Beer


The research found the soda to be more popular and the ‘other’ soda and pepper soda to be the least popular.


Average consumption of the softer drinks were:

Between 560 and 1,060 milliliters were drunk each day by 15-19 year olds

450 and 870 milliliters were drunk each day by 44- 65 year olds.


The study concludes that the average person consumes enormous amounts of soft drinks that raise their risk of cancer over the course of a lifetime.


The leading scientists believe the soda manufacturers and the US Government should take needed steps to protect the general public.