During this week the Daily Mirror editorials have focused on how transnational companies are manipulating the markets to dump their products here though the quality is questionable and some of them are even known to contain possibly cancer-causing substances.
According to the Centre for Environmental Health, test results have shown that one of the multinational soft-drink giants intentionally covered up the presence of high levels of 4-Mel in its popular soft drinks in 2013. The company denied both the presence of this chemical in its beverages and that it was dangerous. 4-Mel, which is short for 4-Methylimidazole, is a compound that is formed in the manufacture of caramel colouring and is a known carcinogen. Since then, the soft drink giant has fought against complying with California State requirements to place a cancer warning label on the beverages that contain the ingredient, including its diet drinks, Natural News, a website which writes on health issues stated.
Now, a settlement in a class action lawsuit against the soft-drink giant has gained preliminary approval from a federal judge in California. As part of the proposed settlement, the drink manufacturer has agreed to ensure its caramel colouring’s 4-Mel levels do not exceed 100 parts per billion in products that are being shipped for sale within the United States. The company will also be required to test the soda using specific protocols. The soft drink giant also agreed to these measures in a different lawsuit that was settled in a California State Court last year. The new settlement, however, expands the reach of these measures from California to the entire country.
The lawsuit accused the global giant of failing to warn people that its beverages contain 4-Mel, which California has officially recognized as a cancer-causing chemical. A 2014 Consumer Reports test showed that the 4-Mel in the drink exceeded the permitted level of 29 micrograms a bottle or can, which would mean the company was in violation of common law and consumer protection statutes in the State of California.
In particular, this violates California’s Proposition 65, which has been in place since 1985 and requires manufacturers to provide consumers with clear warnings when their products will expose them to toxic or cancer-causing chemicals. The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment set the cut off at 29 micrograms because that level creates a risk of cancer of one in 100,000. Citing a 2013 Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research report, Consumer Reports said that caramel colouring is the world’s most widely used food colouring. At the time, the soft drink giant tried to say that because Prop 65 refers to exposure per day rather than exposure per can and that the average amount of diet soda that its drinkers consume daily is less than a can, there was no need to place a warning on it. Consumer Reports disagreed, however.
“No matter how much consumers drink they don’t expect their beverages to have a potential carcinogen in them. And we don’t think 4-MeI should be in foods at all. Our tests of samples show that it is possible to get to much lower levels,” toxicologist Dr. Urvashi Rangan said. It simply does not make sense for people to expose themselves unnecessarily to an ingredient that merely serves to colour their food and consumers have the right to be aware of what they are putting in their bodies. The popularity of books like Food Forensics serves to illustrate the growing desire by Americans to know what ingredients their food products contain.
The cancer-causing caramel colouring in this soft drink is not the only reason consumers should steer clear of it. Soft drinks are also believed to be behind the nation’s obesity epidemic. A California University study found that adults who consumed one sugary drink such as a soda every day had a 27 per cent higher likelihood of being classified as overweight than those who did not drink such beverages. Moreover, drinking just one soda each day adds up to a total of 39 pounds of sugar each year. That means that regular soda drinkers can cut their risk of obesity and cancer in one fell swoop simply by giving up the habit for good, the Natural News said.
In Sri Lanka also this soft-drink is marketed on a large scale and we urge the government to take effective action to warn or save our people from any toxic substances. The government needs to insist that the soft-drink company should state on its label what the