A new report issued by the watchdog group the Center for Environmental Health indicates that despite prior warnings, some Pepsi products still contain "a worrisome level" of 4-methylimidazole, or 4-Mel for short, which is used to create the caramel color of soda. The chemical has never been linked to cancer in people (only hapless lab animals), and the FDA says someone would have to "drink more than 1,000 cans of soda a day" in order to match the levels administered to rodents, but alarm and general health concerns have been sufficient enough to lead to a ban in California and the announcement on the part of PepsiCo and Coca-Cola that they would phase out the compound from the manufacturing process. So why is it still in all those cans?
The Center for Environmental Health didn't find 4-Mel in Coke products, it should be noted, nor was it found in any Pepsi samples taken in California. Testing did reveal, however, the presence of the compound in amounts "4 to 8 times higher than California safety levels in all 10 Pepsi products purchased outside California."
A company spokesperson tells the Salt its products will be completely free of 4-methylimidazole in all of its U.S. territories by February of 2014. Hopefully by then, all of the watchdog groups will be able to narrow their focus on the sugar content of soda in general. After all, what doesn't kill you still has a good chance of making you fat.