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Is Caramel Color Bad For You?



Short answer

Caramel coloring is very bad for you and should be avoided at all costs. It is known to cause cancer by the state of California, and can bring many unwanted side effects.



Long answer

Caramel color is found in many sodas, such as Coca-cola, and a few foods in order to give them a unique brown tinge. The ingredient may sound harmless and even pretty tasty, but research may convince you otherwise.

There are a few different types of caramel coloring, however, the most widely used ones contain an ingredient known as 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). In recent years, this byproduct has been stirring up some controversy. It has been proven to cause cancer in rats and has been added to California's list of chemicals known to cause cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest even started a petition in 2011 urging the FDA to ban the types of caramel color that are cancerous.

If causing cancer isn't already bad enough, caramel coloring can also increase blood pressure, decrease your body's amount of white blood cells, and potentially cause severe allergic reactions to gluten sensitive individuals.

Caramel coloring has absolutely zero nutritional value, and can pose a wide range of serious side effects. It is unfortunate that millions are consuming this toxic byproduct, though its only use is for aesthetics. If you haven't already begun to check your food / drink labels, you may want to do so. It is in your best interest to avoid this food additive, or at least heavily moderate your consumption of it.

Possible short-term side effects

  • allergic reactions

Possible long-term side effects

  • cancer
  • increased blood pressure
  • decreased white blood cell count

Commonly found in

  • dark colored sodas
  • gravies
  • dark breads
  • licorice
  • custards
  • beer (some brands)
  • fillings / toppings
  • frozen desserts
  • cough drops

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Written by Kathan Natrajan | 12-28-2015

Written by Kathan Natrajan
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