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Environmental Organization Identifies Carcinogen in Pepsi

Update Date: Jul 03, 2013 12:22 PM EDT

Sugary drinks like soda and sweetened juices have been tied to increasing the risk of obesity, which leads to more health complications down the line. Although there have been several campaigns discouraging people from drinking soda, this beverage choice still remains popular. A new report by an environmental group might be just what these campaigns needed to help promote a healthier lifestyle. The Center for Environmental Health announced that Pepsi contains a high level of a chemical that has been tied to being a carcinogen in animal studies.

According to the watchdog group, the caramel coloring that is still used as an ingredient by PepsiCo Inc. could be deadly for drinkers. During the process of making Pepsi and Coca-Cola, a carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel) is produced. Back in March this year, Pepsi Co Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. stated that they planned on changing their ingredients after the State of California passed a law stating that both companies would have to print warning labels if they continued to produce Pepsi and Coca-Cola with these dangerous levels of the carcinogen.

The group then tested both Coke and Pepsi to see if the formula indeed changed. Both soda products did not have dangerous levels of 4-Mel in California. Outside of the state, they only found traces of 4-Mel in one out of 10 Coke samples. For Pepsi, however, the group found that 4-Mel levels throughout the country were four to eight times higher than they were in California.

Pepsi Co has addressed this matter and stated that it is in the process of cutting the amounts of 4-Mel and plans on eradicating 4-Mel from its products by February 2014 within the country. The company has yet to set a deadline for taking out 4-Mel in foreign countries.

Despite this recent law to remove 4-Mel, the American Beverage Association has stressed that the chemical is not a recognized carcinogen, with no studies finding evidence that it can lead to cancer in humans. The association stated that California had pushed for the elimination of dangerous levels of 4-Mel based on one study done in mice and rats. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that in order to be a serious threat, people would have to consume 1,000 cans of soda per day.

Whether or not 4-Mel is dangerous will not affect the fact that Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsi Co. will have to remove it from their products or be forced to print warning labels that could potentially deter consumers. 

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