Back in January, the state of California added to its list of cancer-causing chemicals an ingredient commonly used in flavored soda beverages, which has sent major shockwaves throughout the processed food industry. And according to numerous reports, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and even Whole Foods are having to alter their soda beverage recipes in order to avoid being required by the state of California to label their products as causing cancer.
CSPI last year petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove its “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) status from caramel colors produced in this way, but the FDA refused, insisting that caramel color with 4-MI is safe. But Californians apparently believe otherwise, as they overwhelmingly voted to have 4-MI added to the list of toxic substances covered under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65.
As a result, corporate beverage giants are having to change the way they produce caramel color in order to maintain levels of 4-MI that are below the threshold limit. In the process, they are having to spin the story publicly to make it seem as though 4-MI is not dangerous, and that altering the beverage formulas will not change the taste, color, or consistency of their beverages.
The CSPI report names Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc.’s Dr. Pepper, and Whole Foods’ 365 Cola as having unsafe levels of 4-MI that will have to be reformulated. The same report says the amounts of 4-MI contained in these beverages before the reformulation is responsible for causing roughly 15,000 cancers in the U.S. every year.