Coke and Pepsi are making changes to their formulas in order to avoid wearing the label of cancer-causing. The companies are changing their formulas in California and then expanding the change nationally. Specifically, they’ll be reducing 4-methylimidazole or ammonia sulfite used in the beverages’s caramel coloring.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is petitioning the FDA to ban the use of the ingredient because of a link to cancer. While the FDA said that they would evaluate the petition, they are far from convinced.
A person would have to drink more than a thousand cans of soda in a day to match the doses administered in studies that showed links to cancer in rodents, Douglas Karas, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesman, said in a statement according to the NY Daily News.
Coke currently contains between 113 and 146 mcg (micrograms) of ammonia sulfite and Pepsi has between 145 and 153 mcg. The new California law states that a product must have below 29 mcg in order to avoid the cancer-causing label.
"When most people see ‘caramel coloring' on food labels, they likely interpret that quite literally and assume the ingredient is similar to what you might get by gently melting sugar in a saucepan," said CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson in a statement March 5.
"The reality is quite different. Colorings made with the ammonia or ammonia-sulfite process contain carcinogens and don't belong in the food supply."