Coca-Cola products have dropped a toxic chemical-containing form of caramel coloring after a 2011 California court order, but most Pepsi products in the U.S. still contain the poison at levels 4 to 8 times the recommended safe amount. According to National Public Radio’s food blog “The Salt,” Coke products no longer contain 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), whereas Pepsi has only changed the products it sells in California.
Caramel coloring gives colas their distinctive dark brown color. Coke has switched to another form of caramel coloring that does not contain 4-MEI not just in California, but in the whole country. Pepsi, on the other hand, according to new analysis by the Center for Environmental Health, has only made the switch in areas covered under California law.
Only 1 out of 10 non-Californian Coke products still contained the chemical.
“We applaud Coke,” said Michael Green of the Center in a written statement about the report. “Pepsi’s delay is inexplicable. We urge the company to swift action.”
When NPR contacted Pepsi, they assured reporter Allison Aubrey that there is nothing dangerous about their products. “The FDA and other regulatory agencies around the world, including the European Food Safety Authority and Health Canada, consider our caramel coloring safe for use in foods and beverages,” a spokesperson insisted.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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