17/02/2011 11:37 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Cola Colour Additives May Be A Cancer Risk

glass-of-cola-colouring-linked-with-cancer Could a colouring in cola cause cancer? Photo: Corbis

It's been a bad time lately for cola fans, as the latest health scare suggests a colouring used in both Coca Cola and Pepsi - along with other foods - may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The news comes just a week after other experts claimed drinking fizzy diet drinks could harm your heart.

The US-based Center for Science in the Public Interest is calling for the colouring agent to be banned, claiming there is clear evidence that the chemicals in question - 2-MI and 2-MI - have caused cancer in laboratory animals. In lab tests, the experts claim, the chemicals have been linked with leukaemia, lung, liver and thyroid cancers.

It's not even as if the additive enhances the flavour of foods and drinks it's used in, the CSPI experts claim, despite being described as 'caramel colouring'.

"Most people would interpret 'caramel colouring' to mean 'coloured with caramel', but this particular ingredient is a concentrated dark brown mixture of chemicals that simply does not occur in nature," says Michael F Jacobson, CSPI executive director. "Regular caramel isn't healthful, but at least it is not tainted with carcinogens."

On the other hand, the CSPI admitted that the 10 teaspoons of sugar in a can of non-diet soda presents a bigger health risk than the caramel colouring.

Coca-Cola has already reportedly stated that the caramel colouring it uses does not cause cancer, while the American Beverage Association has called the claim a "scare tactic".

But what do you think? Should this colouring - and other artificial additives - be banned?

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