Federal Judge Gives Go-Ahead to Class Action Lawsuit against Pepsi for Exceeding California Carcinogenic Substance Limit

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pepsi is headed to court in California, where a federal judge has ruled (pdf) it must confront allegations that its popular soft drinks contain unhealthy levels of a carcinogen.


The civil case, representing nine class action lawsuits combined together, claims Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi One have levels of the carcinogenic 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI) that exceed what’s allowed under California Proposition 65. That law established a maximum allowable limit of 4-MeI at 29 micrograms a day. Drinks containing the chemical at higher levels have been proven to produce a significant risk of cancer.


The plaintiffs, however, say that Pepsi’s products contain 4-MeI at levels above this safety threshold. They cite a 2014 Consumer Reports study (pdf) that showed the levels of 4-MeI in Pepsi beverages were higher than in other soft drinks tested and, in fact, exceeded more than 29 mcg per can or bottle.


Lead plaintiff Mary Hall claims that, according to Pepsi’s annual reports, the company has known that their drinks breached the safety level. When Proposition 65 was passed in California, Pepsi gave the public the impression it had complied with the new chemical requirement when, in fact, it had not, states the complaint. The soft drink maker intentionally misled the public, said Hall.


Additionally, the lawsuit argues that many consumers drink more than one 12-ounce serving of Pepsi a day, putting them at an even greater risk from unhealthy exposure to the chemical.


Chemical 4-MeI is produced as a byproduct in the sodas as a result of the caramel coloring that gives them their distinct look. The chemical has been shown to cause lung tumors in laboratory animals.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Pepsi Must Defend Against Carcinogen Claims (by Elizabeth Warmerdam, Courthouse News Service)

Stacey Sciortino v. PepsiCo. (U.S. District Court, Northern California) (pdf)

Caramel Color: The Health Risk That May Be In Your Soda (Consumer Reports)

Pepsi and Coke Remove Harmful Substance from Sports Drinks after Teenager’s Online Campaign (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Steve 7 years ago
I would love to join this class action lawsuit. I had a seizure, they found a brain tumor which turned out to be a Grade 3 cancerous tumor and I was told I have a 70% of dying within five years, that was 2 years ago. I ended up taking disability retirement and have lost out on future earnings upwards to $700,000 had I been able to enter the DROP program and worked until 2024 as I had planned.
Vikki Jenkins 7 years ago
Can someone please provide me with info on how to join this lawsuit. My mother has been diagnosed with Leukemia. She drank Pepsi religiously 10 times a day for 40 years. Any info is helpful. Thank you !
DC Kirkley 7 years ago
Coke also added the MEI4 in its products but removed it a couple years ago. I drink it everyday & was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. I am angry as you can imagine!
coliene workman 8 years ago
ive been eating this every day thinking it was good for you but you miss led me i had it for breakfast today and ive had stomach problems after consuming it and intertinal cramps i did not know it could make me sick you should not put stuff on the shelves with bad things in it and lie say its good for you your so fake lieing to everyone
charles hunt 8 years ago
OH yea, im in west virginia, and i want in on the lae siut,just not out there, its all of us.
Charles Hunt 8 years ago
I have drank pepsi for over 40 years,i believe it turned me into a diabetic,for when i drink it(because like robert) i cant stop, now im disabled because of the condition.
robert griffith 8 years ago
I have said for years that I am hooked on Pepsi. I love the taste. Now I can t get off of Pepsi. How do I sign up for this law suit

Leave a comment