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Caramel colors: FDA to unveil survey data on 4-MEI levels in foods & beverages in August

4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI), is a trace element created naturally in the heat processing of everything from roasted coffee to Class III and IV caramel colors

The FDA will unveil the findings of a survey designed to provide a more accurate picture of exposure levels to 4-MEI (4-Methylimidazole) in August. 

4-MEI - an impurity generated during the manufacture of caramel colors III and IV - hit the headlines again in January after Consumer Reports published results of tests showing what it claimed to be “concerning” levels of the controversial substance in soft drinks.

It also called on the FDA to set federal limits well below those already enshrined in California’s Proposition 65 list.  

At the time, the FDA said it had “no reason to believe” that 4-MEI posed a health risk at existing dosage levels, but said it would conduct a new survey to determine whether it needed to revise its opinion. 

Asked for a progress report, and FDA spokeswoman told FoodNavigator-USA: “FDA has completed the analysis of more than 250 food samples for levels of 4-MEI. 

“This information was used to estimate exposure to 4-MEI from the use of Class III and IV caramel coloring in foods for various age groups, including the US population aged two years or more and several sub-populations with a focus on children. 

"This exposure information will be presented at the American Chemical Society annual meeting this August."
Click HERE to read the abstract for FDA’s forthcoming presentation.

Click on the link below to read more about 4-MEI: 

Caramel colors under fire again: Is there a safe level of 4-MEI?

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Currently, the FDA has "no reason to believe that 4-MEI, at the levels expected in food from the use of caramel colors, poses a health risk to consumers"

Caramel colors under fire again: Is there a safe level of 4-MeI?

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Comments (3)

Laura - 15 Aug 2014 | 01:40

Any updates?

Looks like they FDA attended the American Chemical Society meeting yesterday where they were to disclose their findings. I'm wondering if you have been able to get an update from them, or where we can see these results?

15-Aug-2014 at 01:40 GMT

Jeff Morrison - 07 Jul 2014 | 09:19

Caramel Color

According to Prop 65 support for the listing of 4-MEI if one drank 10,000 cans of cola for 70 years than one would have 1 in 100,000th chance of developing lung cancer. Is that a significant risk? I think not. Next someone will attempt to outlaw the grilling of steaks, another generator of 4-MEI. Enough already!

07-Jul-2014 at 21:19 GMT

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