Recently, Californian legislation has changed to classify 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a colouring ingredient in Coca-Cola and Pepsi, as a possible carcinogen to humans. This change will require the companies to display a 'cancer warning' on the packaging of their products. However, instead of doing this both companies have opted to alter the recipes of their drinks in the USA by replacing 4-MEI with another caramel-based colouring agent, thereby circumnavigating the new law.
|Both of the popular drinks are already being sold with the new recipe in California.|
Despite this new legislation, a statement from Coca-Cola has said that "not one single regulatory agency around the world considers the exposure of the public to 4-MEI as present in caramels as an issue" and consequently, the recipes of the drinks sold throughout Europe will not change. Experts say that there is no risk from the chemical, which is also present in many roasted foods, dyes and agricultural chemicals, claiming that an individual would have to drink over 1, 000 cans of either of the drinks a day in order to be risk.
However, the chemical does correlate with an increased incidence of tumour development in lab mice, so is it really safe for humans to consume? The answer, simply put, is difficult to conclude. Mice do have a different physiology to us and obviously, are much smaller. Thus, the chemical could quite plausibly pose no risk to us. On the other hand however, it may and officials in California obviously have cause for concern...