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Coke, Pepsi to drop level of 'cancer' chemical

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Coca-Cola and Pepsi said Friday they have lowered levels of a chemical in caramel coloring to comply with a California law, but insisted the drinks pose no health risks and recipes will not change.

The move allows the companies to avoid having to label products with a cancer warning due to what the health-conscious west coast state has ruled are high levels of 4-methylimidazole, shown to cause cancer in lab rodents.

California voters passed Proposition 65 in 1986, and the law aims to protect state residents from "chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals."

A California court ruled in December 2011 that 4-MEI could be listed as a known carcinogen under Prop 65.

The state set a 29-microgram benchmark for 4-MEI in products. Anything that may expose consumers to a daily level higher than that must carry a warning label.

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