2-Methylimidazole (2-MeI) is Not Present in Caramel Colors

Contrary to published reports, 2-Methylimidazole (2-MeI), which was listed as known to the State of California to cause cancer effective June 22, 2012, is not present in caramel color.

A National Toxicology Program (NTP) report utilized in the Proposition 65 determination included a statement indicating the presence of 2-MeI in caramel colors (December 2004; NTP TR 516: NIH publication No. 05-4456). IACM continues to maintain that 2-MeI is not present in caramel colors and that the statement in the NTP report indicating that 2-MEI is found in caramel colors is factually incorrect.

The NTP report incorrectly lists a range of food products, including caramel coloring and caramel-colored syrups, which it asserts have been identified as containing 2-MeI. NTP cites four published studies as evidence: Yoshikawa and Fujiwara, 1981; Huang et al., 1983; Matyasovszky and Jeszenszky, 1985; Wong and Bernhard, 1988. While some of the studies do reference 2-MeI, the substance has not been found in caramel colors. Instead, 2-MeI has been used as an internal standard for the determination of 4-Methylimidazole (4-MeI).