by Alanna Ketler, Collective Evolution:
Back in 2013, the Center for Environmental Health released test results which uncovered that Pepsi had purposefully covered up high levels of 4-MeI in it’s products. The soft drink giant denied both the presence of this chemical in it’s beverages and the fact that it was dangerous. 4-MeI, short for 4-Methylimidazole is a compound that comes from the “caramel colouring” and is a known carcinogen.
Since this discovery, Pepsi has fought against complying with the California state requirements, a part of the Proposition 65 requirements to label anything containing any carcinogenic compounds. Diet Pepsi, Pepsi One and regular Pepsi all contain this chemical.
A settlement in a class action lawsuit against Pepsi has gained approval from a California judge, the settlement ensures that Pepsi complies to ensuring their products do not exceed 100 parts per billion of the caramel colouring’s 4-Mel. The settlement also requires that the soda will be tested using specific protocols.
Pepsi agreed to these measures in another lawsuit settled in a California state court last year. The new settlement, takes this measure outside of California and brings it across the entire nation.
Pepsi Previously Failed To Warn Consumers Of It’s Known Carcinogens
The lawsuit accused Pepsi of failing to warn people about the carcinogenic chemical 4-MeI. A Consumer Reports test from 2014 showed that the 4-MeI in Pepsi products exceeded the level of 29 micrograms per bottle or can, which was in direct violation of the common law and consumer protection statuses in the state of California.
California has had Proposition 65 since 1985 and requires all manufacturers to provide the consumer with clear warnings when their products could expose them to either toxic or cancer-causing chemicals.
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment had set the cutoff at 29 micrograms, at that level it creates a risk of cancer of one in 100,000.
According to a report from Mintel Leatherhead Food Research conducted in 2013, Consumer Reports said that the caramel colouring is the worlds most widely used food colouring. At the time, Pepsi tried to say that because Prop 65 refers to exposure per day rather than exposure per can, and that the average amount of diet soda that its drinkers consume daily is less than a can, there was no need to place a warning on it. Consumer Reports disagreed, however.
“No matter how much consumers drink they don’t expect their beverages to have a potential carcinogen in them. And we don’t think 4-MeI should be in foods at all. Our tests of Coke samples show that it is possible to get to much lower levels,” toxicologist Dr. Urvashi Rangan said.
Do We Need To Be Adding Chemicals To Our Food?
There are many stances to this question, but first of all, no. Often when CE covers something that involves any new discovery related to cancer causing chemicals, people are either happy to know about it or comment something along the lines of, “well, what doesn’t give you cancer these days.” The latter response is an extremely passive stance to something that we could actually have control over. It is important to realize that we choose what we are putting into our mouths and what is going into our bodies. Assuming that everything gives you cancer and there is nothing you can do about it is essentially giving up. Don’t forget knowledge is power. A little bit of research can go a long way.
If you don’t want to see these chemicals being used, then it is up to you and all of us as the consumer to choose products that contain only natural ingredients. Get informed, if you don’t recognize an ingredient on a product, pull out your handy dandy smartphone and do a quick search. We have the power and with a little effort we can avoid these chemicals altogether. The more we boycott these chemicals the more it forces these companies such as PepsiCo, and many others to either change their ingredients to suit consumer demands or quite simply to go out of business.