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CA law prompts recipe change for Coke, Pepsi

A new state law that requires cancer warning labels on drinks is changing the way Coca-Cola and Pepsi are made.

March 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A new California law that requires cancer warning labels on drinks with certain carcinogen levels is changing the way Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. make their drinks.

Both companies are now adjusting the recipe for the caramel coloring used in their sodas. The companies have already implemented the changes to the drinks sold in California and plan to expand the changes nationally.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the broader industry, said its member companies will continue to use caramel coloring in certain products but that adjustments were made to meet California's new standard.

"Consumers will notice no difference in our products and have no reason at all for any health concerns," the association said in a statement.

Coca-Cola Co. directed its caramel suppliers to modify their manufacturing processes to reduce the levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, which can be formed during the cooking process and as a result may be found in trace amounts in many foods.

"While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning," Coca-Cola representative Diana Garza-Giarlante said in an email.

According to the FDA, a person would have to drink more than 1,000 cans of soda a day to reach chemical levels shown to cause cancer in rodents.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo account for almost 90 percent of the soda market, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.