Misconceptions about caramel colouring
Extensive media coverage has been devoted to some misconceptions about caramel and The Coca-Cola Company’s beverages. We want to set the record straight, and be absolutely clear that the caramel colour in all of our products has been, is and always will be safe, and The Coca-Cola Company is not changing the world-famous formula for our Coca-Cola beverages.
In order to comply with a state regulation in California, the Coca-Cola Company asked its caramel manufacturers to modify their production process to reduce the amount of 4-MEI, a substance that can be produced when foods are cooked, in the caramel used in our products.
While the Company does not agree with the State of California’s decision to require warning labels for food products containing certain trace levels 4-MEI, it began using the new process caramel in California so that products will not be subjected to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning label. The science does not support the state’s position, and there is no public health risk that justifies the requirement of a warning on our products.
All ingredients used in our product, including caramel, have been reviewed for safety by regulatory agencies and international organizations, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the WHO/FAO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Our ingredients are permitted for use and comply with all applicable requirements in the countries where our products are sold.
- EFSA has recently reaffirmed the safety of the caramel colour we have used previously and has stated that the levels of 4-MEI in foods and beverages containing caramel are not of concern.
- 4-MEI is found in trace amounts in many foods and beverages, including baked goods, bread, molasses, soy sauce, gravies, and some beers.
- There is currently no change in Europe, but over time we may expand the use of the new process caramel to streamline and simplify our supply chain, manufacturing, and distribution systems. By using the new process caramel does not affect the taste or colour of Coca-Cola.
The caramel colour in all of our products has been, is and always will be, safe.
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