Though not something typically envisioned as part of a Passover feast, West Coast dwellers who were hoping to enjoy a frosty Coca-Cola with their seder are out of luck. For the second year in a row, the soft-drink giant will not offer a kosher version of its soda in California.
Last year Coca-Cola modified its manufacturing process in California to comply with a state law that would require the soda to bear a cancer warning label, the Associated Press reports, and the company was unable to find a suitable replacement for a kosher version. In 2011, California listed 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MEI, as a carcinogen, and forced soda manufacturers like Coca-Cola to reduce levels of the chemical that is found in the caramel coloring used to give Coke its signature brown hue.
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Coca-Cola is normally sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, while the kosher version uses sugar, as Jews typically avoid corn products during the holiday. The company has since directed its manufacturers to reduce 4-MEI levels in the caramel processing nationwide but has yet to determine a kosher formula in accordance with California’s law. Coca-Cola is still using its previous caramel process in other states to provide kosher soda for Passover. But that doesn’t mean that Coca-Cola from the other 49 states is carcinogenic. Coca-Cola issued a statement explaining that the caramel coloring conforms with worldwide laws. “In other states, we are able to provide kosher for Passover products using our traditional caramel, which is safe and complies with all U.S. federal regulations, as well as regulations throughout the world.”
According to the AP, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola said the company has made progress on developing a kosher product without high levels of 4-MEI, but that the shelf-life sustainability is still under review. The company aims to roll out a product for next year’s Passover holiday. We’ll stick with the Manischewitz for this year.