A man who is suing PepsiCo after he said he found a mouse in a can of its Mountain Dew drink is facing an unusual response.
The drinks corporation argues that his claim could not be true because Mountain Dew contains such acidic flame-retardant chemicals that any mouse in the can would have been reduced to an unrecognisable goo.
While the PepsiCo lawyers might think that they are about to enjoy a slam-dunk victory with the assistance of chemical expert testimony, the PepsiCo marketing department might be looking less than happy.
Ronald Ball, an oil company worker from Madison County, Illinois, says he opened a Mountain Dew can from his firm’s vending machine in 2009, drank some, tasted something foul and then, when he poured out more drink, discovered a dead mouse. He put the mouse in a Styrofoam cup and displayed it to his co-workers. His lawyer, Samantha Unsell, said her client immediately called Pepsi so that the company could stop production on the assembly line. She said a Pepsi representative came to collect the dead mouse.
Arguing for a dismissal, PepsiCo cites expert testimony that the mouse would have dissolved in the soda had it been in the can from the time of its bottling until the day the plaintiff drank it.
Mountain Dew, it turns out, contains brominated vegetable oil (BVO), an ingredient banned in drinks in Europe and Japan. The oil contains bromine atoms that weigh down the citrus flavouring so it mixes with sugared water instead of floating to the top. The BVO, therefore, gives the canned drink more consistent flavouring.
However, BVO is not the sort of thing you’d associate with the purity of real mountain dew because it is also added to polystyrene foam cushions in furniture and plastics in electronics to retard chemical reactions that cause fire.
The argument advanced by PepsiCo to have the case dismissed says: “As Dr. McGill explains, if a mouse is submerged in a fluid with the acidity of Mountain Dew, after 4 to 7 days in the fluid the mouse will have no calcium in its bones and bony structures, the mouse’s abdominal structure will rupture, and its cranial cavity (head) is also likely to rupture”.
There are, though, no immediate plans for PepsiCo to use that information in its marketing of the drink.
The PepsiCo statement goes on to say the chemical would eventually cause all of the mouse’s structures to disintegrate into a “jelly-like” substance.