Pepsi has announced this week that they will be removing a chemical from their soda in the U.S. Over a year ago, the state of California labeled that chemical as a carcinogen. Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found a chemical in Pepsi sodas called methylimidazole (4-MEI). This is a compound found in caramel coloring agents that are used in sodas, soy sauce, bread, and beer, according to The Verge.
The National Toxicology Program conducted research on mice that was exposed to 4-MEI for long periods. These mice had higher rates of lung cancer. The CEH acknowledged that Pepsi that is sold within California contain lower amounts of 4-MEI, but beverages sold elsewhere in the U.S. have high levels of the same chemical. The state of California requires labels for all foods that have cancer-causing agents . Pepsi and Coca-Cola reformulated their caramel coloring.
“We strongly refute any claim that any product we sell anywhere is unsafe. The safety of our products is PepsiCo’s top priority, and we abide by the regulatory guidelines everywhere we do business,” said Pepsi in a statement. “While we meet the strict FDA guidelines, when the regulatory requirements changed in California PepsiCo moved immediately to meet the new requirements and, in order to maintain a harmonized supply chain, globally committed to rolling out the changes across the rest of the US and internationally.”
Working with their suppliers, Pepsi is going to lower the amount of 4-MEI used in coloring agents. Pepsi plans to sell soda with lower amounts of 4-MEI across the U.S. in February 2014, according to Bloomberg/Businessweek.
The CEH also said that they did not find any elevated levels of 4-MEI in any other products, including Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola uses a different caramel coloring agent. There will be continued studies about the chemical.