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Health Highlights: July 3, 2013

Cancer-Causing Chemical Still Found in Pepsi: Environmental Group Long John Silver's Has Least Healthful Meal: Watchdog Group

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Cancer-Causing Chemical Still Found in Pepsi: Environmental Group

The caramel coloring used in Pepsi still contains a troublesome level of a possible cancer-causing chemical, according to the environmental watchdog group The Center for Environmental Health.

The chemical 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel) can form during the cooking process and may be found in trace amounts in many foods. In March, Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. both said they would adjust their formulas in the United States after California passed a law that forced drinks with a certain level of carcinogens to carry a cancer warning label, the Associated Press reported.

Both companies made the formula changes for drinks sold in California when the law passed. While recent tests showed that Coke products no longer contain 4-Mel, Pepsi products sold outside of California still do, The Center for Environmental Health said.

Pepsi said its caramel coloring suppliers are changing their manufacturing process to reduce the amount of 4-Mel. The switch is complete in California and will be finished in February 2014 in the rest of the U.S., the AP reported.

Pepsi said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies worldwide consider Pepsi's caramel coloring safe. Trace amounts of 4-Mel have not been linked to cancer in humans.


Long John Silver's Has Least Healthful Meal: Watchdog Group

Long John Silver's serves the least healthful meal in the United States, according to the watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The group tested the restaurant chain's Big Catch meal -- which includes batter-fried haddock and side dishes such as hush puppies and onion rings -- and found that it has 33 grams of trans fat. That's more than two weeks' worth of the two-grams-per-day maximum recommended by the American Heart Association, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The AMA says that trans fats increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, and are also linked to type 2 diabetes. Some other fast food chains, such as Taco Bell and KFC, phased out trans fats years ago.

The analysis of the Big Catch meal also revealed that it contains 19 grams of saturated fat, 1,320 calories and nearly 3,700 milligrams of sodium, the Times reported.

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