Move over, BPA, make room for the new kid on the block: 4- MI ( the 'cute' name for 4-methylimidazole), a byproduct of the process used to create one of the coloring agents used in what is obliquely termed 'caramel color' on the ingredients list of many processed foods, most notably sodas like Coca Cola and Pepsi.
The Center for Science in Public Interest had submitted a docket to the FDA, requesting that the caramel colorings with 4-MI be banned, but can claim success of a different sort from what it had hoped. Because of regulations in the state of California, where Coke and Pepsi would have had to label their drinks with warnings similar to "This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."
If it causes cancer in California, surely, it must cause cancer elsewhere. Ah, the power of truth in advertisement, and the things manufacturers will do in order to not have to issue disclaimers that their product contains substances that are considered carcinogens, even it is only in California. Or is the fear that they could be sued in California by any private citizen or group over the 4-MI in their formulation? This article sheds more light on their concerns.
"Our member companies will still use caramel coloring in certain products, as always. The companies that make caramel coloring for our members' soft drinks are producing it to meet California's new standard,” the beverage association said in a separate statement.
“Consumers will notice no difference in our products and have no reason at all for any health concerns.”
The question is still up in the air as to whether the results of lab tests that show that 4-MI is indeed carcinogenic in lab rats, at high concentrations that far exceed the normal levels that even the most avid drinker of sodas would be exposed to, can be used to argue that 4-MI in caramel color is indeed responsible for a variety of cancers in the population ingesting it. My guess is that at best, it would be one of a gazillion contributing factors towards any cancers that did develop.