Pepsi Carcinogen: Dangerous or Not?

    July 3, 2013
    David Powell
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The Center for Environmental Health, an environmental watchdog group, has warned that the caramel coloring in Pepsi contains a dangerous level of a cancer-causing agent.

The offending ingredient in question is 4-methylimidazole, which goes by the street name 4-Mel, and can be introduced into a product during the cooking process and can be found in many foods. The levels of 4-Mel at issue are prohibited in California, but not in other states.

The group commissioned an analysis of ten drinks by Coca-Cola and ten by Pepsi. Eurofins Analytical Laboratory in Louisiana carried out the analysis on California products in May and products from the rest of the country in June. The lab found no 4-Mel in any of the California products from either brand, and in only one of the Coca-Cola products from outside California.

But the lab also discovered levels of 4-Mel 4-to-8 times higher than the legal California limit in all 10 Pepsi products.

Be that as it may, loyal Pepsi drinkers are probably not in any danger. The California list of prohibited carcinogens is based on one study that only looked at 4-Mel’s effect on mice and rats. No study has yet connected the substance to cancer in humans, and the Food and Drug Administration has stated that a person would have to drink over 1,000 cans per day to consume the level of the substance that has been shown to cause cancer in rodents.

Pepsi has also issued a statement that it is working with suppliers to decrease the amount of 4-Mel resulting from its caramel coloring.

The Center for Environmental Health’s consumer product division seeks to “protect families from toxic chemicals to promote products that are safe for public health and the environment.” Its website currently includes an email campaign to convince Pepsi to make a “safer soda, not Pepsi with a cancer-causing chemical!” [exclamation point in original], if you’re outraged.

  • Bonnie

    pretty soon you won’t be able to flush the toilet without getting cancer

    • Todd Blattz

      Only if you flush it with Pepsi…

      • thomas

        Another knee jerk article with no concrete scientific analyzation this is like the article about pop rocks and coca cola fiction upon fiction.

  • Tom

    Who finances these pseudo-science and pseudo-health organizations? And why does the media continue to push their agenda?

    Even with no evidence of issues in humans, these groups mislead the public into believing that these “chemicals” that have been used for decades MUST be bad for humans since if they can drown a rat in it and it dies then humans will too.

    Why are they not concerned about the excessive consumption of “dihydrogen monoxide” and the deaths associated with that? Oh, by the way, dihydrogen monoxide is pure water.

  • BB53

    Why not just use real food for flavor instead of chemicals? Then there’s nothing to worry about.