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The Dangers of Caramel Coloring

TODAY'S TIP: Readers often ask if caramel coloring has gluten (it can). It can also contain a carcinogen called 4-Mel. Long-term studies have shown that it CAUSED lung cancer in mice. 

Caramel coloring can be derived from different grains, including barley (high in gluten) &/or corn. In the U.S, it appears to be mostly corn derived. As for the amount of gluten in caramel coloring, there are 2 sides of the argument here - one claims that gluten proteins (or other proteins) are distilled down too far to cause a reaction, while the other side questions this, since there is not testing or laws in place to prove otherwise, and also because there are a significant number of people whose personal experience is that they do react (allergic reaction or celiac reaction) to caramel coloring and other highly distilled grain products.

However, it isn't just people w/ celiac or allergies who should avoid it, we all need to for the sake of our health. Many soy sauces (many restaurant soy sauces list it as the 1st or 2nd ingredient), imitation maple syrup, cola, gravy, etc. contain caramel coloring that uses 4-Mel. And major brands use 4-Mel, acc. to a Consumer Reports study. One can of certain sodas can contain very high amounts, and most soda drinkers drink more than one can per day.

I hate the word, "should", but there are simply to many people w/ cancer and immune issues to softball this one.

Previous studies of 4-MeI have found long-term exposure to the chemical caused lung cancer in mice, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. That prompted the state to add 4-MeI to its list of potentially toxic chemicals under Proposition 65, which requires warning labels on products containing concerning levels of the chemical -- in this case 29 micrograms of 4-MeI per can or bottle.

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