Skip to main content

Some Sodas Exceed Safe Limit for Potential Carcinogen Known as 'Caramel Coloring'

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Warning: Drinking a full can of certain sodas, like Goya Malta or Pepsi One, exposes users to an extremely high dosage of 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MeI, a chemical and potential carcinogen that gives pop its "caramel coloring," as it is labeled on the cans' ingredients.

A single can of Pepsi One contains 43.5 micrograms of 4-Mel, according to a new analysis of sodas by Consumer Reports. The State of California, however, limits manufacturers to an average of 29 micrograms of 4-Mel per customer daily.

But as reports, Pepsi manufacturers can explain why their product does not need the state's standard warning label: Most people don't drink a full can of Pepsi One daily.

"[T]he average amount of diet soda consumed by those who drink it is approximately 100 [milliliters] per day, or less than a third of a 12 [ounce] can," a Pepsi Corporation spokesperson said, according to the LA Times.

California law generally requires foods that surpass this limit to display a label reading: "WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer," CNN reported.

Ten other soda brands tested by Consumer Reports did contain less 4-Mel than the California limit, which even still is estimated to cause one case of cancer in every 100,000 lifetimes of daily exposure.