UK Calls for Ban on Cancer-Causing Ingredient in Coca-Cola

A new campaign aims to ban a coloring agent known to cause cancer

Who can enjoy a soda these days with all the bad publicity? Now, U.K. campaigners are fighting Coca-Cola makers to change out an ingredient that research says may cause cancer.

The ingredient 4-methylimidazole (4-MI) is an additive used to make that rich, dark brown color. While the use of that additive has already been reduced in U.S. soft drinks (after California said any drink with it must come with a cancer warning), it's still used in U.K. sodas. The Daily Mail reports that  a regular Coke can sold in the U.K. contains 135 micrograms of 4-MI. And experts from the U.S. have warned that regularly drinking that amount of the additive would cause cancer in 1 in 10,000 people.

A new campaign from the the Children’s Food Campaign has called on U.K. manufacturers to phase out the additive as well. Malcolm Clark told the Daily Mail, "Coca-Cola seems to be treating its U.K. consumers with disdain. The company should respect the health of all of its customers around the world, by using caramel coloring that is free of known cancer-causing chemicals."

In its defense, Coca-Cola has said they would reduce levels of 4-MI, but couldn't give a timeline when that would happen. It began phasing out the chemicals back in March in the U.S. One reason for the lag? The expense of the caramel coloring, nearly four times the amount of 4-MI.