Caramel color I
INS No 150a
Caustic Sulphite Caramel
Caramel Color II
Caustic Sulphite Process
INS No 150b
Caramel Color III
Ammonia Process Caramel
Closed-pan ammonia process caramel
Open-pan ammonia process caramel
INS No 150c
CAS Number: 8028-89-5
Caramel is made by the controlled heating of food-grade carbohydrates, and is one of the most common natural colorings. There are four different types of Caramel distinguished by how they are produced: Plain Caramel), Sulphite Caramel), Ammonia Caramel or Sulphite Ammonia Caramel.
Caramel color is mostly used in soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. It is also added to confectionery, bakery products, dairy products, desserts, meat, seafood, vinegars, sauces, gravies, soups, snack food, fruit preparations, and convenient food.
Caramel I – plain caramel is a food additive that is included in Table 3 , and as such may be used in certain foods under the conditions of good manufacturing practices (GMP) as outlined in the Preamble of the Codex GSFA. Caramel I – plain caramel is also acceptable in foods conforming to commodity standard CS 117-1981. There are currently no Codex provisions for Caramel II – sulfite caramel adopted in the GSFA but there are many at Step 4.
Regulatory Approvals/Consumption Limits
USA: GMP (21 CFR 73.85)
EU: Group ADI of 300 mg/kg bw/day as well as an individual ADI of 100 mg/kg bw/day for Class III Caramel (EFSA, 2011)
JECFA: An ADI for Class I ‘Not specified’ was established at the 29th JECFA (1985), for Class II of 0 -160 mg/kg bw was established at the 55th JECFA (2000) and an ADI for Class II of 0-200 mg/kg bw (0-150 mg/kg bw on solids basis) was established at the 29th JECFA (1985) and an ADI for Class IV of 0-200 mg/kg bw (0-150 mg/kg bw on solids basis) was established at the 29th JECFA (1985).
A comprehensive review of chemical color safety was recently published in Food and Chemical Toxicology.
EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS); Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of caramel colours (E 150a,b,c,d) as food additives. EFSA Journal 2011;9(3):2004 [103 pp.]. Available online.
JECFA (2001) Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. 55th report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. WHO Technical Report Series 901. Available online.
JECFA (1986) Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. 29th report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. WHO Technical Report Series 733. Available online.
IACM monograph available to IACM members or upon request.