Pepsi Brands Contain Chemical Linked to Cancer, Report Claims

By on January 24, 2014
Pepsi soda lawsuit

Did you ever wonder how cola soft drinks, such as Pepsi One or Diet Pepsi, get their brownish hue?  Many beverage companies use caramel coloring to transform the color of the drink.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had previously said that the amounts of caramel coloring in soft drinks were safe to ingest.  However, a new analysis conducted by Consumer Reports has reached a different conclusion and now the nonprofit organization is asking the FDA to take another look.

According to the Consumer Reports analysis, various types of caramel coloring have a potentially carcinogenic additive called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI).  In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that the chemical may cause cancer in humans.  The federal government does not regulate legal limits of 4-MeI, however a California law passed in 2012, mandates that any beverage containing more than 29 micrograms per can or bottle needs to have a health-risk label.  The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment uses 29 micrograms per can or bottle as the limit because anything above that amount increases an individual’s chance of getting cancer.

Consumer Reports tested many of the popular brands sold in stores. Most of the brands did not exceed the California legal limit.  However, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi One contained more than 29 micrograms per can or bottle.  According to the results, Diet Pepsi had 30.5 micrograms and Pepsi One had 43.5 micrograms.  None of the bottles had a cancer-risk warning label, which may violate California’s Proposition 65 law.

Consumers Reports notified the California Attorney General’s office of its results. Additionally, the organization is asking the FDA to implement a federal standard for 4-MeI and force beverage companies to disclose amounts of 4-MeI on drink and food labels.

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