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Coke, Pepsi to make change in soft drink caramel color manufacturing

(Xinhua)

14:37, March 09, 2012

BEIJING, March 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. will make a change in the manufacturing of soft drink caramel color to meet the new requirements of California, according to media reports on Friday.

The additive being involved is a compound called 4-methylimidazole (4-MI or 4-MEI), which provides the caramel color in cola drinks. It has been found to lead to tumors to cause cancer in animals in lab studies, but studies haven't shown it to have similar effects in humans.

California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment sets a level of 29 micrograms of 4-MI, and the companies have to post a cancer warning label on their products with 4-MI exceeding the standard.

However, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that cola cans including Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, have levels of 140 micrograms in each 12-ounce can.

"The 4-MI levels in our products pose no health or safety risks," Coca-Cola spokesman Ben Scheilder said. "The caramel color in all of our ingredients has been, is and always will be safe."

But to meet the new California's standard, both companies, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have already adjusted the recipe for the caramel color, and have implemented the changes to the drinks sold in California. The changes would also be expanded nationally to streamline the manufacturing processes, the companies said.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo account for almost 90 percent of the soda market, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest.

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