PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The people who warned us about movie popcorn and calories in fast food are now raising another red flag. This time it’s Cola. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is On Your Side with more.

Cola is one of the most popular sodas in the country. But the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a warning that might kill your craving. It says that the chemicals in the artificial caramel coloring can cause cancer, and it is calling for a government ban.

“Unfortunately, at least two of them cause cancer in laboratory animals, and we have to assume that they cause it in humans as well,” said Michael Jacobson, Executive Director with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

According to the Center, the caramel color becomes dangerous when it’s mixed with ammonia and sulfites at high temperatures, which is how colas are made.
The food coloring doesn’t actually affect the taste of the soda. It’s purely cosmetic.

“There’s no reason to accept any chemical that causes cancer in our food supply,” said Michael.

But the beverage industry argues the claims are not based on sound science and are unnecessarily raising the fears of consumers. Experts say the cancer risk is small.

Watch the video…

“Because if you’re consuming a reasonable amount of these sodas, you’re actually getting small amounts of these chemicals, and I don’t think there is real danger,” said Dr. Fred Guengerich, Professor of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University.

California is already calling for warning labels on products that contain the carcinogen found in the caramel coloring.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest also acknowledges that the obesity causing sugars in soda are still the bigger health risk.

For more information, visit the Center for Science in the Public Interest

For the petition letter, click here.

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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