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Cancer risk found in Coke, Pepsi: Group

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Published : March 6, 2012 - 09:49

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U.S. regulators, reviewing an advocacy group’s complaint that a chemical used in colas causes tumors in animals, said there’s no immediate risk to consumers from the substance. 

Cans of Coca Cola soft drinks sit on display at a Poundland discount store in Croydon, U.K., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Poundland Holdings Ltd. operates houseware and toy retailers and is based in the United Kingdom. (Bloomberg) Cans of Coca Cola soft drinks sit on display at a Poundland discount store in Croydon, U.K., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Poundland Holdings Ltd. operates houseware and toy retailers and is based in the United Kingdom. (Bloomberg)


A person would have to drink more than a thousand cans of soda in a day to match the doses administered in studies that showed links to cancer in rodents, Douglas Karas, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesman, said in a statement.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer- health group in Washington, said in a statement today that high levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole were found in drinks made by Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and PepsiCo. Inc. (PEP) The chemical is part of coloring used in colas and the subject of a study the group released today. An industry group disputed the findings.

“This is nothing more than scare tactics,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement today, calling the claims “outrageous.”

The FDA has no reason to believe consumers are in danger, the FDA’s Karas wrote in an e-mail. The agency is reviewing the group’s petition, he said.

The consumer group said it commissioned laboratory studies of products including Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Snapple Group Inc.’s Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper, and Whole Foods 365 Cola from Washington-area stores.

“Coke and Pepsi, with the acquiescence of the FDA, are needlessly exposing millions of Americans to a chemical that causes cancer,” said Michael F. Jacobson, the Washington-based group’s executive director, in a statement. “The FDA needs to protect consumers from this risk.”

California Standards

Pepsi’s products, Diet Coke and regular Coca-Cola had levels that were high enough to require a warning notice in the state of California, according to the center’s release.

The chemical was included on California’s list of carcinogens even though there are no studies showing it causes cancer in humans, the industry group said.

Diana Garza Ciarlante, a spokeswoman at Atlanta-based Coca- Cola, said the chemical, also known as 4-MEI, poses no health or safety risks.

“Unlike CSPI, The Coca Cola company deals in hard facts,” she said in an e-mail. “ The body of science about 4-MEI in foods or beverages does not support the erroneous allegations that CSPI would like the public to believe.”

No regulator agency concerned with protecting the public health has stated the chemical is a human carcinogen, she said.

Gillian Galasso, a spokeswoman at PepsiCo in Purchase, New York, didn’t respond immediately to a phone message seeking comment.

Libba Letton, a spokeswoman at Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market Inc., didn’t immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment, and a message left on the media relations line at Dr Pepper Snapple Group in Plano, Texas, wasn’t immediately returned. (Bloomberg)



<한글 기사>

美 코카·펩시콜라 발암물질 함유 논란

소비자단체 "착색료 4-MEI 다량 함유…당국 규제 필요"

코카콜라와 펩시콜라에 발암성 물질이 다량 함유됐다는 주장이 미국 소비자 단체에 의해 제기됐다.

워싱턴 소재 소비자단체 공익과학센터(CSPI)는 콜라 제품 365종을 수거 검사한 결과 코카콜라와 펩시의 일반·저열량 콜라에서 발암성 물질인 4-메틸이미다졸(4-ME I)이 검출됐다고 밝혔다고 블룸버그통신이 5일(현지시간) 전했다.

4-MEI는 콜라에 캐러멜색을 내는 과정에서 발생하는 물질로, 동물실험에서 다량 을 섭취했을 경우 발암성이 나타났다.

단체는 이 물질이 캘리포니아주 발암물질 목록에 들어 있으며, 코카콜라와 펩시 콜라에는 캘리포니아주 규정에 따라 경고문을 부착해야 할 정도로 4-MEI가 다량  함 유됐다고 주장했다.

CSPI는 "펩시와 코카콜라, 그리고 식품규제당국의 묵인으로 인해 수많은 사람이 불필요하게 발암물질이 노출되고 있다"며 "식품의약국(FDA)은 이로부터 소비자를 보 호해야 한다"고 요구했다.

이 단체는 지난달에도 콜라에 함유된 4-MEI 사용 중단을 FDA에 요청한 바 있다.

FDA는 그러나 콜라에 든 4-MEI는 미량이어서 건강에 위협이 되지 않는다고 강조 했다.

사람에게 독성을 나타낼 정도로 4-MEI를 섭취하려면 하루에 콜라 1천캔을  마셔 야 한다고 FDA는 설명했다.

업계는 4-MEI가 동물실험에서 발암성을 보였지만 인체 발암물질이라는 증거가 없어 이 물질을 발암물질로 분류한 국가는 어디에도 없다고 지적했다.

코카콜라 측은 "CSPI와 달리 우리는 과학에 근거해 판단한다"며 "식품 속 4-MEI 에 대한 과학적 사실은 CSPI의 주장과 부합하지 않는다"고 답변했다.