Does Artificial Caramel Coloring Cause Cancer?

It’s in many of our favourite foods, but its most commonly known appearance is in the ingredient listing of most cola-type soft drinks. Caramel colouring has been a well-used substitute for real caramel in foods and drinks for years, but the type used specifically in dark coloured beverages, Caramel IV, is the one that is currently making headlines as a cancer-causing agent.

Dangers of Synthetic Food Coloring

Also known as “ammonia sulfite process caramel”, Caramel IV has no connection with actual caramel (as the candy), and is a complete chemical synthetic colouring agent, similar to chemicals like Red 40, Yellow 5, and the delisted Violet No.1.

Recently reported by MSNBC, researchers announced their findings at the ASA’s International Stroke Conference held in Los Angeles, and determined that the addition of synthetic ingredients like Caramel IV is directly connected to higher illness rates. As a matter of fact, the synthetics used in diet colas led to an increase of heart attack and stroke.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

For some time now, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been pushing to have synthetics like colouring agents removed from foods, and is now urging the use of Caramel IV to be added to the list. Containing both ammonia and sulfites – two known carcinogens, it has become a priority to remove Caramel IV from colas.

The CSPI has filed a regulatory petition based on research from the National Toxicology Program in which lab animals developed cancers after being given the chemicals, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, used in making Caramel IV.

No comments have been made by the FDA as of yet, but there will be a Food Advisory Committee review held at the end of March 2011.

Colleen Ludgate, Editor,


Colleen Ludgate

I am the Editor/Community Manager for the Q&A Social Networking site, I'm also a certified Chef/Pastry Chef and Community Food Advisor.

One thought on “Does Artificial Caramel Coloring Cause Cancer?

  • February 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Yet more reason to ban soda from my house. I haven’t liked it for years, and this is just one more example of how unhealthy we’ve become in our society. I’m eager to see what happens after March..



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *