Pepsi cans still contain cancer-causing chemical
Pepsi has still not removed a potentially cancer causing chemical from its cola drink.
According to research commissioned by the Centre for Environmental Health (CEH) rival drink Coca-Cola has changed its caramel colouring in the United States.
But, outside of California, Pepsi is still using colouring with high levels of the cancer-causing 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI).
California added 4-MeI to the state list of chemicals known to cause cancer after the National Toxicology Program found “clear evidence” of carcinogenicity of the chemical in studies on mice.
The state’s Proposition 65 law then effectively banned 4-MeI, but more than a year after PepsiCo pledged to clean up its ingredients drinks bought from ten states still contained “high levels” of the carcinogen.
Last March, both Coca Cola and PepsiCo stated they would be changing their caramel colouring in products nationwide as a result of a California law that requires labels on products containing 4-MeI.
The CEH testing showed Coke has largely reformulated, but tests on Pepsi products show the company is still using caramel colouring containing 4-MeI in all ten products tested from outside of California.
“This shows how California’s Proposition 65 law can make products safer for all Californians, and in some cases for all Americans,” said Michael Green, executive director of CEH.
“We applaud Coke for taking this health protective action for consumers nationwide, but Pepsi’s delay is inexplicable.
“We urge the company to take swift action to provide all Americans with the same safer product they’re selling in California.”
CEH commissioned an independent lab to conduct 4-MeI testing on Coke and Pepsi products.
Tests show that outside California, Pepsi contains levels of 4-MeI that are from four to more than eight times higher than California safety levels.
Industrial production of caramel colouring creates 4-MeI as a by-product, but processing changes can reduce or eliminate production of the chemical without altering the colouring.
Pepsi says US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agency’s tests have shown the chemical is safe but the drinks giant has pledged to remove 4-MEI, but not completely until next February.
The FDA recently reported that a consumer would have to drink in excess of 1000 cans of cola a day to be exposed to the amount of 4-MEI that has been linked with cancer in rodents.