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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration says it is conducting new studies of the safety of caramel coloring in soft drinks and other foods, even though previous research has shown no identifiable health risks.

The agency's announcement comes in response to a Consumer Reports study released Thursday of 12 brands of soda that show varying levels of a chemical compound formed in some caramel coloring at low levels during the manufacturing process.

The FDA says it has studied caramel coloring for decades and has no reason to believe the byproduct is unsafe.

There are no federal limits on the amount of the byproduct, though California considers it a carcinogen. That means products must be labeled with a cancer warning if they exceed the state's threshold for the substance.

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