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

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

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
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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1 comment

Any updates?

Posted by Laura,

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?

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