Is Caramel Color Safe?
I have seen many ingredient labels in my life and one ingredient that I always think twice about is Caramel Color. I have heard from some places it is fine if the product was manufactured in the United Sates and some say it is unsafe. I did some research on this topic and here is what I was able to find some helpful information on Celiac.com:
The problem with caramel color is it may or may not contain gluten depending on how it is manufactured. In the USA caramel color must conform with the FDA standard of identity from 21CFR CH.1. This statute says: the color additive caramel is the dark-brown liquid or solid material resulting from the carefully controlled heat treatment of the following food-grade carbohydrates: Dextrose (corn sugar), invert sugar, lactose (milk sugar), malt syrup (usually from barley malt), molasses (from cane), starch hydrolysates and fractions thereof (can include wheat), sucrose (cane or beet). Also, acids, alkalis and salts are listed as additives which may be employed to assist the caramelization process.
Your best bet will be to contact the manufacturer and confirm what they use to make their caramel color. In the US the most common is high dextrose corn syrup which would make it fine.
Here is another excerpt I found from Glutenfreeclub.com.:
Caramel coloring is what gives Coke, and other dark colas, the coloring. And caramel coloring is used in other food products too. For example, caramel coloring is in soy sauce, cookies, juices and some seasonings. Caramel coloring can be manufactured using different grains. In the United States, it is normally made with high dextrose corn syrup. But it is also infrequently made with barley. Dextrose is sugar and is safe. Barley is an unsafe starch for a Celiac.
This can be very confusing for people, and I’ve seen it in various forums and in my email box. Some people believe that many of the Coke products are safe to drink. Others think you should stay away from any product containing caramel coloring…..
So how do you know if caramel coloring is safe? It always goes back to the same procedures I followed for the above product. I ask! If a food product has caramel coloring listed as an ingredient, I need to call the company or check their website and ask them to tell me the parts per million of gluten. If it is over 20 ppm, or they can’t tell me, I don’t eat or drink it.
After doing this research and reading various articles I have come to the conclusion that if I am unsure where the product was made or if it does not say “Gluten Free” on the package I will either
a) Call the manufacturer
b) Avoid it
I hope this helps clear up some confusion on what to do with this tricky ingredient!