Pepsi to reduce use of toxic chemical

Updated: 2013-07-05 15:10

By Liu Xiaozhuo (

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PepsiCo China said Thursday the company is taking measures to cut the amount of 4-methylimidazole, or 4-Mel, in its caramel coloring, after an American environmental group reported Wednesday that Pepsi products contain high levels of the cancer-causing chemical.

The Center for Environmental Health found Pepsi products bought in 10 states outside California still contains high levels of 4-Mel.

PepsiCo China said in a statement to National Business Daily that the caramel coloring Pepsi used in China is legal according to local laws and regulations.

A PepsiCo statement in response said their caramel coloring suppliers are modifying the production process to reduce the amount of 4-Mel.

"The work has been done in California; the rest of the US will be completed by February 2014," the statement said. "PepsiCo suppliers are also undertaking this effort globally."

Despite Pepsi's promise, Michael Green, CEH's executive director, said, "Pepsi's delay is inexplicable. We urge the company to take swift action to provide all Americans with the same safer product they're selling in California."

PepsiCo's share prices fell 1.2 percent on Wednesday.

An unnamed Chinese food expert said that safety issues about 4-Mel have not come up in China. "But it is possible 4-Mel can cause cancer," the expert said.