Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been forced to change their recipes in America to avoid having to put cancer-warning labels on their cans - while the drinks in Britain stay the same.
Coca-Cola said Friday it will lower levels of a chemical in caramel coloring to comply with a California law, but insisted the beverage’s recipe will not change and poses no health risks.
Pepsi is making similar changes in order to avoid having to label products with a cancer warning due to what California has ruled are high levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), shown to cause cancer in lab animals, consumer advocates said.
The changes do not amount to a change to Coke’s formula, spokesman Ben Sheidler told AFP.
“We are NOT changing our recipe; or our formula,” he said in an email.
Formed naturally in the heating and browning process
Occurs in caramel colouring as well as some roasted and cooked foods
Can be in some cleaning, photographic and agricultural chemicals, dyes and pharmaceuticals
Exposure can be through consumption or during manufacturing process
Source: California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
The chemical has been linked to cancer in mice and rats, according to one study, but there is no evidence that it poses a health risk to humans, said the American Beverage Association, which represents the wider industry.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims a person would need to drink more than 1,000 cans of Coke or Pepsi a day to take in the same dose of the chemical that was given to the animals in the lab test.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo account for nearly 90% of the US fizzy drink market, according to one industry tracker, Beverage Digest.
The companies say changing their recipes across the whole of the US, not just in California, makes the drinks more efficient to manufacture.
In a statement Coca-Cola added that the manufacturing process across Europe would not change.
It said that apart from California "not one single regulatory agency around the world considers the exposure of the public to 4-MEI as present in caramels as an issue".
For more on the recent Coke and Pepsi recipe changes, check out the clip below: