An environmental watchdog group called The Center for Environmental Health said that the caramel coloring used in Pepsi still contains dangerous levels of a carcinogen. Carcinogens are chemicals that can potentially cause cancer.
In March, PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. both said they would change their formulas following the passing of a California law regarding the permissible levels of carcinogens, as well as cancer warning labels.
While changes were made after the law passed, groups are saying the changes made are not enough. Levels of 4-Mel were found that are 4 to 8 times higher than California safety levels in all 10 Pepsi products purchased outside California.
The specific chemical in question is 4-methylimidazole, or 4-Mel, which can form during the cooking process and, as a result, may be found in trace amounts in many foods. The Center for Environmental Health found via testing that while Coke products no longer test positive for the chemical, Pepsi products sold outside of California still do.
Pepsi said its caramel coloring suppliers are changing their manufacturing process to cut the amount of 4-Mel in its caramel. That process is complete in California and will be finished in February 2014 in the rest of the country. Pepsi said it will also be taken out globally, but did not indicate a timeline.
Meanwhile, the company said the FDA and other regulatory agencies around the world consider Pepsi’s caramel coloring safe.