Coloring company D.D. Williamson issued the following statement in response to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) claims that caramel colorings are carcinogenic and should be banned. The CSPI singled out two chemicals, 2-methylimidazole (2-MEI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), for investigation and asked the F.D.A. to consider banning the chemicals in all food and drink applications.
-statement provided by D.D. Williamson
Caramel color has undergone complete food safety testing more than 20 times in the past 35 years, and meets rigorous food safety standards around the world. There has never been a study that showed any health risk from caramel color.
The State of California has decided to include 4-MeI – formed naturally in most cooking, broiling, roasting and grilling -- on its Proposition 65 list of possible carcinogens. As a result of this regulatory action, many soft drinks, soups, gravies, sauces and baked goods -- foods produced using caramel color, a common ingredient produced by cooking sugar or corn syrup -- would need to carry a warning label claiming that it is a possible carcinogen.
The decision defies common sense and good science.
4-MEI is formed naturally in the process of cooking, roasting, broiling or grilling food of every sort: chicken, beef, vegetables, other meats, and even coffee. It is found in hundreds of home-cooked or store-bought foods that people have been consuming for generations. It is not an additive.
California's decision, which was made by a regulatory agency without any public hearing or review of other research, was based on two inconclusive and contradictory studies: one study in rats, after they were fed large amounts of 4-MEI, showed a reduction of tumors and the same study in mice showed an increase in tumors. There has never been a study that showed any connection between 4-MEI and cancer in humans.
If you believe what the State of California has recommended, you will no longer grill on the 4th of July, or enjoy a cup of coffee on a peaceful Sunday morning.