Caramels

 

Identifiers

INS No. 150a
E 150a
Class I
Plain Caramel
Caustic Caramel

INS No. 150b
E 150b
Class II
Caustic Sulfite Caramel
Sulfite Caramel

INS No. 150c
E 150c
Class III
Ammonia Caramel

INS No. 150d
E 150d
Class IV
Sulfite Ammonia Caramel

CAS No. 8028-89-5

Physical Description

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.

Common Uses

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.

Specifications

US FDA
JECFA
EU Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012

Codex GSFA Provisions

Caramel I – plain caramel (INS No. 150a) is a food additive that is included in Table 3, and as such may be used in specific foods under the conditions of good manufacturing practices (GMP) as outlined in the Preamble of the Codex GSFA, as well as in foods conforming to Commodity Standards for Bouillons and Consommés (CS 117-1981), Instant Noodles (CS 249-2006) and Certain Canned Fruits (CS 319-2015).

Caramel II – sulfite caramel (INS No. 150b) is currently permitted for use in 5 food categories, including chewing gum, confectionery, decorations, toppings (non-fruit) and sweet sauces, flavored fluid milk drinks, pre-cooked pastas and noodles and like products, and there are many more draft provisions pending adoption.

Caramel III – ammonia caramel (INS No. 150c) and Caramel IV – sulfite ammonia caramel (INS No. 150d) are also authorized for use in more than 70 food categories in the GSFA.

Regulatory Approvals

USA: Caramel is exempt from certification and may be safely used for coloring foods generally (21 CFR 73.85), for use in drugs generally (21 CFR 73.1085), and for use in cosmetics generally, including those for eye area (21 CFR 73.2085) in amounts consistent with GMP

EU: 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). EFSA has authorized use and established maximum use levels in specific food and beverage categories.

JECFA: JECFA: An ADI for Class I of ‘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 III 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).

 

Safety Reviews

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

Vollmuth TA. Caramel color safety – An update. Food Chem Toxicology. 2018 Jan; Vol 111: pp 578-596.  Available online