Does Pepsi Have Red Dye? (Answered)

Pepsi is one of the most recognized beverages in the world. However, many people don’t know how it gets its color.

This article discusses if Pepsi is colored with red dye or another color additive to give it its brown color. Let’s get into the details!

Pepsi & Red Dye

Pepsi does not have red dye. It is made with caramel color, which is routinely used in colas like Coke, Cherry Coke, RC Cola, and others to give them their dark brown colors. According to PepsiCo, the caramel color used in Pepsi is made by heating cane or corn sugar with other carbohydrates.

You can determine if a soda has red dye by reviewing its ingredients on the label. Regulations require that synthetic (man-made) and dyes from a natural source be listed in the ingredients.

Man-made dyes are certified for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and appear in the ingredients under their certified names such as RED 40 or Blue 1.

Dyes from natural sources are known as exempt certified colors. While these color additives do not require batch certification, they will still appear as ingredients under a name like “colored with fruit juice”.

A review of Pepsi’s ingredients shows no use of red dye. Caramel color is all that is needed to produce this soda’s color.

Pepsi Ingredients: Carbonated Water, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Sugar, Phosphoric Acid, Caffeine, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor.

Is Caramel Color Safe?

Caramel color has been used in food and beverages for over 150 years. It has been determined to be safe to eat and drink by various government agencies including the FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, the cooking process of caramel color sometimes produces a byproduct known as 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI). This is a potential concern since research has found an increased occurrence rate of certain tumors from 4-MEI based on toxicology testing on rodents.

Research has not yet found that it is cancer-causing in humans. It is believed that the amount of 4-MEI found in foods and beverages is not at a dangerous level to cause harm to humans.

Keep in mind that some people choose to avoid caramel color or greatly limit it in their diets because of its potential danger. It is not an essential nutrient so doing away with it is no loss to the body.

Caramel color common questions: 4 mei: Soft drinks – consumer reports news. Caramel Color Common Questions | 4 MeI | Soft Drinks – Consumer Reports News. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2022, from
Wood-Wright, N. (2015, February 19). Coloring used in some sodas poses cancer risk to consumers, study suggests. The Hub. Retrieved December 19, 2022, from