Coke and Pepsi used to give colas that distinctive brown hue contained a chemical, 4-methylimidazole — 4-MEI — that is listed as a carcinogen.
found that 10 of 10 samples of Pepsi products purchased nationwide
during the month of June (in locations outside California) contained
levels of 4-MEI that were about four to eight times higher than the
safety thresholds set by California. Testing was conducted by
Eurofins Analytical laboratory in Metairie, La.
nine of the 10 samples of Coke products purchased in locations outside
California contained little or no trace of 4-MEI.
"We applaud Coke," wrote , executive director of the Center for Environmental Health, in a release announcing the findings.
"Pepsi's delay is inexplicable," Green added. "We urge the company to take swift action."
Pepsi spokesperson said Pepsishould complete the transition to the new caramel coloring by February
"The FDA and other
regulatory agencies around the world, including the European Food Safety
Authority and Health Canada, consider our caramel coloring safe for use
in foods and beverages," Pepsi Co. wrote in an email to The Salt.
So, are the higher levels of 4-MEI found in sodas using the old formulation a threat to human health? Well, consider the dose.
FDA issued a statement last year, before the formulation of caramel
coloring was changed, consumer would have to drink more
than 1,000 cans of soda a day to reach the doses that have been shown to
lead to cancer in rodents.
And the wrote in a statement last
year that "the science simply does not show that 4-MEI in foods or
beverages is a threat to human health."