(Natural News) High-fructose corn syrup isn’t the only ingredient found in sodas that consumers should be concerned about. Pepsi and other sodas contain a toxic byproduct known as 4-Methylimidazole, or 4-MEI for short, that may be increasing your cancer risks.
Pepsi has come under fire for violations of California’s Proposition 65 in relation to 4-MEI. The Center for Environmental Health even filed a complaint against the beverage giant in 2013 due to their violations. Pepsi has since paid the organization some $385,000 and provided them with updates on product compliance, and a settlement was reached in 2015. Following that settlement, Pepsi “agreed to require its caramel coloring suppliers to meet certain 4-MEI levels in products shipped for sale to the United States, to ensure that the carcinogen’s levels will not exceed 100 parts per billion.”
As of 2016, a newer settlement will now be requiring Pepsi to apply the same product standards nationwide.
What is 4-MEI and why should it be regulated?
4-MEI is an impurity that is created during the manufacturing of caramel colors III and IV. The FDA maintains that they have “no reason to believe” that 4-MEI is carcinogenic. The agency is reportedly re-evaluating the public’s exposure to 4-MEI to ensure manufacturers are using it safely but is not currently recommending dietary changes.
This is rather perplexing because studies conducted by the federal government clearly showed that long-term exposure to 4-MEI increased the incidence of lung cancer in both male and female mice. The federal government’s findings even prompted the state of California to add 4-MEI to their Proposition 65 list of carcinogens. While there are no federal limits yet for 4-MEI, the state of California requires products that contain more than 29 micrograms (mcg) to be labeled.
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment chose 29 micrograms as the “cut off point” because they concluded that amounts at that level or above pose a one in 100,000 risk of cancer — meaning that being exposed to that amount daily for a lifetime will result in no more than one excess cancer case per 100,000 people.
Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., toxicologist and executive director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety & Sustainability Center, believes that this amount is too high. “It’s possible to get more than 29 micrograms of 4-MEI in one can of some of the drinks we tested. And even if your choice of soft drink contains half that amount, many people have more than one can per day.”
Rangan explains that because colorants are deliberately added to foods, they should pose a negligible risk, which is defined as no more than one excess case of cancer per one million people. To meet that level, the experts at Consumer Reports say that sodas need to contain no more than 3mcg of 4-MEI per can.