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Coca Cola and Pepsi Change Caramel Coloring to Avoid Cancer Warning Label

EMSL Analytical tests for 4-methylimidazole, the chemical produced during caramel manufacturing


Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are modifying the way in which their sodas’ caramel coloring is made in order to reduce the amount of a chemical known as 4-methylimidazole. The change is the result of a new California law mandating that drinks carry a warning label if they contain a certain level of carcinogens, and 4-methylimidazole is listed as a cancer-causing agent by the state of California.
4-methylimidazole is created during the caramel cooking process and can be found in many foods, reports the Huffington Post. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have asked their manufacturers to alter the process to decrease the amount that is produced, although they deny that consuming 4-methylimidazole has any effect on human health. Thus far, the only research done on its carcinogenic effects was performed on rodents, not humans.
The changes have already been made for drinks sold in California, but the two companies, which account for 90 percent of the market share, say that the modifications will be implemented nationally.
“EMSL Analytical uses advanced testing methods to analyze 4-methylimidazole and a wide variety of other chemicals in food products,” states Galina Kapustin, Ph. D., EMSL’s Laboratory Group Leader. “Our dedicated food chemists apply their tremendous experience in the industry to each analysis, and many of our team members hold advanced degrees.”
For more information on EMSL’s food testing services, please contact EMSL at (800) 220-3675, email, or visit or
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical, Inc. is a full service testing company providing quality lab services under the same private ownership since 1981. Including the corporate lab facility in Cinnaminson, NJ, EMSL Analytical operates over thirty laboratories nationwide in the US and Canada. We provide analytical services for environmental, indoor air quality (IAQ), industrial hygiene, forensics and materials science, consumer products, food safety, PCR, pharmaceutical, asbestos, lead, and radiological samples. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies. Please see our website for a complete listing of accreditations.



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