To avoid cancer warnings, Coca-Cola and Pepsi alter chemicals

Coca Cola and Pepsi have to reduce a coloring chemical in their cola to meet the health standards of California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Otherwise, the companies would have to put a cancer warning label on their products.

Coca Cola and Pepsi have to reduce the level of a chemical in their colas to avoid labeling their products with a cancer warning, Reuters report.

Both companies said on Friday that they have asked their suppliers of the caramel coloring they use to alter the manufacturing process so they can meet the requirements of a Californian ballot initiative. The goal of the ballot is to limit people's exposure to toxic chemicals. This particular chemical, 4-Methalymidazole or 4-MI, was added to the list of chemicals covered by California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65.

The California statute says that "no person in the course of doing business shall knowingly and intentionally expose any individual to an alchemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving a clear and reasonable warning…"

Both companies have stated that they have started to reduce the chemical in their production in California and will expand the use of the reduced 4-MI caramel coloring over time. Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc said that all the caramel coloring being produced meets the new California standard.

However, earlier this week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a U.S. watchdog group, said they found unsafe levels of the chemical not just in Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola cans, but also Dr Pepper and Whole Foods Market's 365 Cola. A spokes person from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that a person would have to drink well over a thousand cans of soda a day to reach the dose that links to cancer in rodents.

Coca-Cola spokesman Ben Shielder said the modification to the manufacturer process will have no effect on the formula, color or taste of Coca-Cola.

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