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Coca-Cola, Pepsi To Start Using Less Battery Acid

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Wed, 11 Mar 2015 06:55:00 EDT

ATLANTA (CAP) - Coca-Cola and Pepsi are changing a key ingredient to avoid being slapped with a warning label about how their drinks eat through the lining of your stomach into your internal organs.

The new recipe for caramel coloring in the drinks has less sulfur dioxide, which California has added to its list of chemicals that cause, in some cases, almost instantaneous stomach explosions.

But Coca-Cola says there is no health risk to justify the change; instead, they're changing the ingredient "just because."

"And we certainly don't want to be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning," said Coke spokeswoman Diana Galante-Frederickson. "We figured, a little less sulfur dioxide never hurt anybody, probably."

Sulfur dioxide is the primary ingredient in sulfuric acid, often referred to as "battery acid." Without it, colas like Coke and Pepsi wouldn't have their "rich, robust caramel color," said Galante-Frederickson.

"And to refer to it as battery acid is very much a misnomer," she added, noting that the sulfur dioxide in true battery acid is heavily diluted by water and "not nearly as richly robust" as the ingredients in Coca-Cola.

Officials at both Coke and Pepsi have noted that rats whose stomachs exploded after drinking their products had been forced to ingest an "inordinate amount" of cola - "at least 12 cans," said PepsiCo spokesman Hank Perbles. "I mean, who drinks 12 cans of Pepsi?"

Perbles called the findings "ludicrous" and added that in normal doses, "Pepsi doesn't cause stomach explosions any more than pink dye doesn't cure breast cancer."

But MIT researcher Dr. Roderick Crawford pointed out that the rats weren't fed an unreasonable amount of cola, given that the cans of soda used in the study were actually proportionally scaled rat-sized cans that they could hold in their little paws, served alongside tiny little bags of potato chips.

"Granted, we also had them smoking little cigarettes, which could have had an effect on the outcome," he noted.

Still, neither Coke nor Pepsi has opted to remove the ingredient from the drinks altogether, instead opting to reduce the amount used.

"I don't think Coke drinkers are prepared for the decline in rich robustness that would result if we removed it completely," said Galante-Frederickson. "I know I wouldn't be if I drank the stuff."

In fact, both Coke and Pepsi drinkers have protested the recipe change, pointing to the caramel coloring as one of their favorite aspects of the drink. "This is even worse than when Miami tried to ban street cheese vendors," said Coke drinker and community activist Rafael Garcia.

The change to the recipe has already been introduced in California but will be rolled out gradually across the U.S., starting with the areas with the most exploded stomachs.