What is caramel color? What is caramel color made of?

Caramel color helps give Coca-Cola its unique look and taste. It is made by heating sugars and starches, as well as common food acids, bases or salts until we get just the right color.


Is there caramel color in soda?

Caramel color can be found in our colas, teas and root beers, like some of these favorites:

It gives them their distinct color.


Is caramel color bad for you?

No. We are committed to the safety and quality of our beverages. Caramel color has been thoroughly tested and confirmed as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Doesn’t your caramel coloring have 4-MEI? I heard it is bad for you.

Caramel color contains trace amounts of 4-MEI (or 4 methylimidazole). This is a result of the caramelization process, like when coffee beans or cereal grains with sugar are cooked or roasted. The FDA has reviewed the science and says the levels of 4-MEI in our beverages does not represent a risk. The FDA says: “Based on the available information, FDA has no reason to believe that there is any immediate or short-term danger presented by 4-MEI at the levels expected in food from the use of caramel coloring.”

4-MEI levels in caramel color have always been extremely low. Thanks to changes in manufacturing processes, we’ve been able to reduce them even more.

The FDA says you would have to drink 1,000+ cans of soda a day to match the amounts used in studies that showed health concerns with 4-MEI.

How do I know if caramel coloring is in my drink?

First, check the ingredients list. We list the ingredients we use next to the Nutrition Facts label on our cans and bottles, including caramel color.

This helps make it clear what’s in our beverages. You can also learn about each of our products here, so you can choose what’s right for you and your family.


Learn more