Caramel coloring is one of the oldest and most widely used food colorings. It is the same substance that browns cola and gives beer an amber-gold color. Although it sounds natural, caramel coloring is different from candy candies. There are four types of caramel colors, two of which contain chemicals related to cancer in laboratory animals.
The four caramel colors include pure caramel; a type that reacts sugar with sulfite; a substance that reacts sugar with ammonium compounds; and one that reacts sugar with ammonium and sulfite compounds—used in most sodas The type of coloring. Caramel coloring is also found in brown bread, chocolate, cough syrup, vinegar, custard, fillings, doughnuts, gravy browning and many other foods.
Although cola is associated with elevated high blood pressure, people believe that the caffeine in beverages is the culprit. However, a 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that although people who regularly drink caffeinated coffee are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, those who regularly drink cola are. The researchers concluded that another ingredient in cola may be the culprit-caramel color is rich in harmful end-products of advanced glycation.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the Food and Drug Administration in January 2011 to ban two caramel colors that react with ammonia because they contain carcinogenic by-products 2-MEI and 4-MEI. At the same time, California added 4-MEI to its list of known carcinogenic chemicals. Both of these complaints are based on studies published in 2003 and 2005 by the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health, which showed that these chemicals can cause cancer in certain mice and rats.
According to a study published in "Science of Toxicology" in 1993, caramel pigment III is a type produced by ammonia instead of sulfite, and may reduce the beneficial white blood cell count in the blood. Dutch researchers fed mice a diet supplemented with caramel pigment III for one month, and then measured their immune response to Trichinella spiralis, a microorganism that causes trichinosis. The mice given the highest level of caramel pigment had the greatest decline in immune function.
If you are allergic to them or suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, certain ingredients used to make caramel color can cause a reaction. Some of these include milk, corn dextrose, corn or wheat starch, and maltose syrup derived from barley. However, these ingredients are not always shown separately on the product label.