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Watchdog group finds carcinogen in Pepsi

from usatoday.com: An environmental group said Wednesday that the caramel coloring
used in Pepsi still contains a worrisome level of a carcinogen, even
after the drink maker said it would change its formula.



In
March, PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. both said they would adjust their
formulas nationally after California passed a law mandating drinks
containing a certain level of carcinogens come with a cancer warning
label. The changes were made for drinks sold in California when the law
passed.



The chemical 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.



Watchdog group 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.

Coca-Cola
said it has transitioned to using a modified caramel in U.S. markets
beyond California that does not contain Mel-4, so it wouldn't have to
have separate inventory of products for different locations. It also
said all of its products, whether they have the modified caramel or not,
are safe.

The watchdog group Center for Environmental Health said
it commissioned Eurofins Analystical laboratory in Metairie, Louisiana,
to test Coke and Pepsi products from California in May and from across
the country in June.

The lab did not find the chemical in
California products. And it found no 4-Mel in nine out of 10 Coke
products outside of the state. But it found levels of 4-Mel that are 4
to 8 times higher than California safety levels in all 10 Pepsi products
purchased outside California, according to the Center for Environmental
Health.

Trace amounts of 4-Mel have not been linked to cancer in
humans. The American Beverage Association said that California added the
coloring to its list of carcinogens with no studies showing that it
causes cancer in humans. It noted that the listing was based on a single
study in lab mice and rats.

The Food and Drug Administration has
also said that a consumer would have to drink more than 1,000 cans of
soda a day to reach the doses administered that have shown links to
cancer in rodents.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo account for almost 90 percent of the soda market, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest.

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