Pushed By CSPI, Coke and Pepsi Change Caramel

The Coca-Cola Co., Inc. and PepsiCo, Inc. both said they will change the way they add caramel  coloring to their flagship sodas after a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest revealed the presence of a carcinogen in some containers.

The changes were made to avoid a California law requiring products that contain known carcinogens to put a cancer warning on their labels.

The companies said they had instructed their manufacturing facilities to change the process by which the caramel color is produced.

CSPI found the presence of low levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole in some samples of Coca-Cola and Pepsi during tests it had run in February. As a result, the organization had petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of caramel coloring manufactured in a way to yield the byproduct.

The American Beverage Association also released a statement that its member companies would adjust their own caramel coloring processes to meet the California standard, although products already on the market were not a reason for health concerns.

According to the FDA, consumers would need to drink hundreds 1,000 cans of soda a day — or more — to cause any concern, although CSPI disputes that, saying any carcinogenic presence should cause concern.