I know it's hard to believe, but science has found yet another reason why soda is even worse for you than we thought. The most common soda coloring is dangerous to your health. One kind of caramel coloring, which gives your soda that lovely golden-brown hue, contains 4-Mel, which can cause cancer. Consumer Reports found some sodas with levels of 4-Mel high enough to require a warning, and yet it was not listed in the ingredients. So that's super.
The good news is that you can have your brown soda and drink it, too. There are other kinds of caramel coloring that do not contain 4-Mel, and soda companies can and should change theirs. But it also makes me wonder -- why do we need our cola to be brown in the first place?
If you really think about it (and okay, I have a tendency to over-think everything), it's odd that we're so attached to the idea that cola has to be brown. I remember a while back when Pepsi Crystal and Clear Tab were introduced -- and bombed. The people did not like it!
Logically we know that the color of a food shouldn't affect the taste. But it kind of does, right? And why brown, anyway? Is it just because that's what we're used to? I'm sure whatever original ingredients were in the soda might have been naturally brown, and eventually they got replaced with "caramel coloring" and the like. And this is why turquoise or magenta soda aren't as popular. (Which is a pity.)
This focus on caramel coloring isn't new, by the way. Coke changed its formula and ditched the 4-Mel two years ago. I don't think anyone noticed a difference in taste or color.
Anyway, if you're curious about which sodas contain the most 4-Mel, Consumer Reports lists the following: 365 Everyday Value Dr. Snap, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi One, and Goya Malta. The FDA told Consumer Reports they thought levels of 4-Mel in food were safe, but thanks so much for the heads-up, they'll test again. (Hmm ...)
Do you feel like the color of your soda affects its taste?
Image via Hani Arif/Flickr