Environmental group says Pepsi still contains cancer-causing food coloring

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) says Pepsi products sold in the US outside of California still contain cancer-causing chemical 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) a year after pledging to remove the chemical from product formulations. CEH challenged Pepsi and Coca-Cola formulations under California’s Proposition 65, which sets exposure limits for harmful chemicals.

According to independent testing commissioned by CEH, all ten Pepsi products sold outside Califonia tested positive for 4-MEI compared to one of ten Coca-Cola products. CEH says based on the tests, consumers outside California who drink a single can of Pepsi twice a week are consuming more 4-MEI than the level that triggers a safety warning in California.

In an email, PepsiCo Senior Director Aurora Gonzalez said, “Our caramel coloring suppliers have been working on modifying the manufacturing process to reduce the amount of 4-MEI.  As you know, 4-MEI levels in our products in California are below Prop 65 levels. The rest of the US will be completed by February 2014. In fact, we’ll be starting the process and shipping concentrate end of this year.