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July 26, 2017

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Taipei City councilor calls for Coke cancer warnings

A Taipei City councilor demanded cancer warnings be placed on Coca-Cola products warning that they contain a coloring ingredient containing a possible carcinogen. The company however said that the product is safe.

Councilor Kao Chia-yu noted 4-methylimadazole (4-MEI) in the ingredient, which gives Coca-Cola the caramel color, has been listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer among its possibly carcinogenic Group 2B compounds.

Kao said that as cancer has been the top killer in Taiwan over the past 30 years, the nation must be cautious about any possible carcinogenic substances.

She told a press conference that Coca-Cola Taiwan has no plans to change the formulation of the drink, and the Department of Health (DOH) must take action.

The Coca-Cola Company altered the coloring formulation for California earlier this year to avoid putting cancer warning labels on its drinks after the U.S. state listed the chemical as a probable carcinogen.

But Coca-Cola Taiwan responded to the councilor's demand by stressing that 4-MEI carries no health risks and is widely found in many food items, such as pastry, bread and coffee products.

It said Coca-Cola has plans to adopt the reformulated caramel coloring ingredient in its worldwide production in order to unify and streamline its supply chain, manufacturing and sales. It added that it is making a timetable for such a change.

The DOH has said it will consider setting limits for 4-MEI in food products, a health official from the Taipei City government disclosed.

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