A California federal court has dismissed a lawsuit arguing that PepsiCo Inc. should provide medical monitoring for a class of Diet Pepsi or Pepsi One purchasers because the company does not warn consumers that 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a compound in caramel coloring, has allegedly been linked to potential health risks in rodent studies. Riva v. PepsiCo, Inc., No. 14-2020 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., order entered March 4, 2015). The case was severed from a consolidated class action after the plaintiffs decided to pursue medical monitoring and personal injury claims not included in the consolidated action. Information about the case’s transfer of venue appears in Issue 523 of this Update.
The court determined that the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue the claim because “they have not established that the alleged risk of bronchioloalveolar cancer (for which they seek lung scans and testing) is both credible and substantial.” The studies cited as support for the plaintiffs’ claims did not “show that humans experience the same increased risk [as mice], particularly at the exposures alleged.  The Riva Plaintiffs have effectively invited the Court to engage in an ‘ingenious academic exercise in the conceivable to explain how defendants’ actions cause their injury.’” Finding that the plaintiffs had ample notice of the issues in contention, the allegations were dismissed with prejudice.