Pepsi and Coca-Cola beverages sold in the United States will soon feature a new mix of ingredients to save changes being made to the drinks' labelling.
The alteration involves a reduction in the quantity of the 4-MEI (4-methylimidazole) chemical present, after California published new data linking it to cancer.
Rather than modify Coke's and Pepsi's packaging, the firms have simply lowered the amount of 4-MEI in each drinks' overall mix. Initially, the remixed drinks will only be available to consumers in California but, ultimately, they'll appear on shelves nationwide.
Cancer Drinks Labels
While prompted by the advent of the Californian cancer drinks labels legislation, Coca-Cola stressed, in a statement, that the substitution hadn't been made for health risk reasons.
In comments published by the Associated Press, a representative for the firm explained, simply, that the company wanted to guarantee its fizzy beverages "would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning".
According to information released by the California Office of Environmental Health, 4-methylimidazole is naturally produced as a result of processes involving heating or browning. Therefore, it's present in caramel colouring and industrial applications for it include pharmaceutical, photographic and cleaning processes.
While, under trial conditions, it's been associated with cases of rodent cancer, there's no clear link established between 4-MEI and human cancer, according to the American Beverage Association. Furthermore, says the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), the rats and mice involved in the lab trials were given extremely high doses of the chemical - roughly equivalent to that present in upwards of 1,000 Pepsi or Coke cans.
Pepsi and Coke Labels
The new Californian legislation states that a revised label, warning of the risk involved, must now feature on drinks with more than an allowed quantity of carcinogens present. If followed directly, that call would have resulted in new Pepsi and Coke labels.
"While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning", Cola-Cola's Diana Garza-Ciarlante told the AP.