PepsiCo Inc. promised to remove a known carcinogen from its ingredients in order to comply with a California law that would require it to come with a cancer warning label. Yet the soft drink still contains the cancer-causing chemical 4-methylimidazole.
Known as 4-Mel, 4-methylimidazole is a component of the caramel coloring used to give Pepsi its color. The chemical was also found in Coca-Cola. A two-year study by the National Toxicology Program of the Department of Human Services showed 4-Mel caused cancer in rats. Following the 2007 study, both soft drink manufacturers promised to modify their manufacturing processes to remove 4-Mel. In March 2012, both said this had been accomplished.
The Center for Environmental Health wanted to see if the chemical had been removed from Pepsi and Coke as claimed. It commissioned Eurofins Analystical laboratory in Metairie, La., to test Coke and PepsiCo products from California in May and from other areas of the country in June. It found that Coke no longer contained 4-Mel, but PepsiCo products made outside of California still did.
Even if the carcinogen is removed, soft drinks should still be avoided. Most contain high fructose corn syrup, which blocks the assimilation of calcium in the body; causes cancer in test animals and predisposes humans to cancer; bypasses the pancreas, leading to diabetes and causes obesity; and is highly addictive.
A study in the American Journal of Public Health determined that consuming two or more cans of soda daily increases the chances of suffering from depression and anxiety by as much as three times over drinking few to no sodas.