Coca-Cola and Pepsi have both decided to make changes in the way they process the caramel coloring used in their products in an effort to comply with a California law which requires labeling products with a cancer warning if they contain high levels of chemicals known to cause cancer.
But the two companies maintain that their recipe will not change and that the sodas they produce do not pose a health risk.
Officials with Coca-Cola said they have directed their caramel supplier to make a modification in the manufacturing process in order to reduce the level of 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) to meet the requirement set forth by Proposition 65.
Voters passed the measure in 1986 as it aims to protect consumers from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposure to such chemicals.
The change comes as the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest came out with a report recently that found the caramel coloring in both Pepsi and Coke contained high levels of 4-MEI, which has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals.
But many beverage leaders, including the American Beverage Association, contest the findings, arguing that they are based on only one study of mice and 4-MEI is not a threat to human health, unless it is consumed in massive amounts.
Coca-Cola said they have plans to change their processing on a global level but have not set a timeline for those changes to take place.
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