Do you enjoy soda, iced tea, or beer? All of these foods are foods that may contain caramel coloring. There are four different types of caramel coloring that food companies use in their products. Two of these colorings are made from ammonia and contain a potential cancer causing compound called 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI).
The safety of this color compound has been under investigation for years. Most recently in 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined this chemical to be “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
In 2012, the Center For Science in the Public Interest found Coca-Cola, Pesi-cola, Dr. Pepper and Whole Foods’ 365 Cola to contain unsafe levels of 4-MEI. However, the FDA does not believe the chemical poses any immediate or short-term danger to the human population.
Despite the FDA not finding the chemical to pose any danger in the immediate future, it does seem that there is a potential for this chemical to cause long term, potentially cancer causing effects. Until the FDA sets an exact standard as to what amount of this ingredient is safe and while the investigation continues, we can add this to the list of why it is best to avoid soda and other sugar sweetened beverages that contain “caramel color” or “artificial color” in the ingredients list. It is best to stick with water as our first choice to quench our thirst.
While we would recommend avoiding soda, we do also know that only drinking water can get boring. Jazz up your water with the infused water recipe found below!
How to Make Infused Water
- Wash the fruits, vegetables, or herbs that you plan to use
- Slice the produce
- Add produce to a pitcher or water bottle and add water
- Let the water sit in the refrigerator or a few hours or overnight to infuse
Combinations to Try
- Watermelon + mint
- Lemon + cucumber + mint
- Cucumber + mint
- Lemon + strawberry + basil
- Orange + lemon
- Blueberry + cucumber + mint
- Ginger + lime
You can also check out amazon.com for this infuser water bottle (makes infused water on the go even easier!)