When a product is found to contain a chemical or ingredient that could possibly pose a health risk to consumers, the manufacturer is required to label its product with an appropriate warning. While producers of these goods typically adhere to these labeling compliance regulations as most-noticeably evidenced by the cigarette industry, some try to find ways around relabeling their product.
In February, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claiming that the caramel coloring both Coca-Cola and Pepsi were using in their beverages were carcinogens and demanded action be taken. CSPI's executive director Michael Jacobson told USA Today that 15,000 Americans will develop cancer because of the popular soda's current amount of 4-methylimidazole, which gives Coke and Pepsi their caramel hue. The American Beverage Association (ABA) said these allegations are fruitless.
"This is nothing more than CSPI scare tactics, and their claims are outrageous," the ABA said in a statement. "CSPI fraudulently claims to be operating in the interest of the public's health when it is clear its only motivation is to scare the American people."
Due to the outcry though, California listed the chemical as one of its known carcinogens, which meant any product containing a certain level of the coloring would be required to have a label on its packaging to notify consumers of the potential health risk. The ABA said that there are no studies that link the chemical with cancer in human beings, and the only proof of the allegations were based on one study on mice and rats.
A spokesman from the FDA told the news source that CSPI's findings are being reviewed, but the average person would have to drink more than 1,000 cans of soda per day to consume the amount of the chemical that caused cancer in the test animals.
Instead of relabeling all of their products that contain 4-methylimidazole, both soda conglomerates are changing the way they make their caramel coloring, which they found to be a simpler and more consumer-friendly solution.