The caramel coloring in Pepsi‘s Pepsi One (PEP) could be slowly making you sick, Consumer Reports says, with a chemical additive that even the World Health Organization is warning people about.
The Food and Drug Administration has now said it will re-examine the chemical additive.
The coloring that’s actually found in many soft drinks includes the chemical 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MeI. (U.S. labels list it as “caramel coloring,” because sadly that’s how easy it is to avoid calling something a chemical.) The World Health Organization has noted that the chemical causes cancer.
Those who say the chemical may possibly cause cancer include the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the state of California, which now limits manufacturers to 29 micrograms of exposure for the average consumer per day. Foods exceeding that limit have to carry a warning label that reads: “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.”
But when Consumer Reports purchased sodas in California and had them analyzed by a lab, it found that one 12-ounce serving of Pepsi One or Malta Goya exceeded the levels permitted without a warning label.
Now for the really bad news: The Food and Drug Administration does not set federal limits on 4-MeI in food.
In addition, Consumer Reports found that the chemical differs between states, so that a Pepsi One bought in New York was found to have four times as much 4-MeI as the same product bought the same month in California.
But Pepsi quickly announced it had already thought of that, and replied with a response that will likely scare soda drinkers, but make their lawyers happy (From the LA Times)
The soda giant said the levels of 4-MeI in its drinks did not amount to 29 micrograms per day because “the average amount of diet soda consumed by those who drink it is approximately 100 [milliliters] per day, or less than a third of a 12 [ounce] can.”
In other words, it’s not harmful because, well, who drinks a whole can of Pepsi One?
PEP stock is down slightly in early morning trading.