Coke and Pepsi will be removing a controversial chemical—methylimidazole (4-MEI)—from their drink recipes. The chemical is on California’s list of carcinogens.
The new recipe has less 4-MEI and has been introduced in California, said the BBC. The recipe will be rolled out throughout the United States, although Coca-Cola says that no health risks justify the recipe change.
Spokeswoman Diana Garza-Ciarlante told the Associated Press (AP) that the company wanted to ensure their products “would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning,” wrote the BBC. 4-MEI has been linked to cancer in mice and rats, according to one study’s findings; however, according to industry group, the American Beverage Association, no evidence exists the chemical poses human risks, wrote the BBC.
Earlier this week, we wrote that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it sees no danger from the soda chemical and that, after reviewing a complaint from The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in which it said that 4-MEI causes tumors in animals, the FDA said no immediate risk exists.
The agency alleged that one would have to drink in excess of 1,000 cans of soda daily to match doses administered in studies that revealed links to the chemical, also known as 4-MEI—to cancer in rodents, said Douglas Karas, an FDA spokesman, wrote Bloomberg previously.
The companies said that making the change throughout all of the U.S. makes the drinks more efficient to manufacture, wrote the BBC. Coca-Cola said that European manufacturing process would remain unchanged and that, other than California, “not one single regulatory agency around the world considers the exposure of the public to 4-MEI as present in caramels as an issue.”
According to the CSPI, high 4-MEI levels were detected in a number of drinks made by both the Coca-Cola Co. and the PepsiCo. Inc. The CSPI said it commissioned laboratory studies of a number of products—Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Snapple Group Inc.’s Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper, and Whole Foods’ 365 Cola—from Washington DC-area locations.
“Coke and Pepsi, with the acquiescence of the FDA, are needlessly exposing millions of Americans to a chemical that causes cancer,” said Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI’s executive director. “The FDA needs to protect consumers from this risk,” Jacobson added, said Bloomberg.
According to the CSPI, Pepsi’s products, Diet Coke, and regular Coca-Cola all tested with levels significant enough to warrant a warning notice in California..
The FDA has long maintained that artificial food dyes are safe but, as far back as the 1970s, some pediatricians and other children’s advocates have called for the elimination of dyes and preservatives, especially in the diets of children with behavior problems.