Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Caramel

The GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Database allows access to opinions and conclusions from 115 SCOGS reports published between 1972-1980 on the safety of over 370 Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) food substances. The GRAS ingredient reviews were conducted by the Select Committee in response to a 1969 White House directive by President Richard M. Nixon.


  • SCOGS-Report Number: 20*
  • Type Of Conclusion: 1
  • ID Code: 8028-89-5
  • Year: 1973
  • 21 CFR Section: 182.1235

SCOGS Opinion:

Interpolation of data from long-term feeding studies in the rat and from consumer exposure data indicates that the highest no-effect level reported in laboratory animal feeding of caramel is approximately 130-fold the usual level of man's daily intake. The highest no-effect level reported in laboratory animal feeding is approximately 50-fold the intake level if an individual's diet were to consist only of those foods contaiing the greatest amounts of caramel. Based on the one published experiment in man, the corresponding figures are approximately 15-fold and 6-fold.

The Select Committee believes that the level of heterocyclic nitrogen-containing compounds in caramel colors should not be left to chance. While all available information indicates that the levels of nitrogen-containing heterocyclic compounds in commercial caramel colors as currently used is well below that which could be toxic to the consumer, a limitation with respect to nitrogen-containing compounds in the specification for food grade caramel would avoid possible future problems in this regard.

The Select Committee has weighed the foregoing and concludes that:

There is no evidence in the available information to show that caramel as a food ingredient constitutes a hazard to the general public when used at levels that are now current or might reasonably be expected in the future.

*Complete reports containing details of the safety studies that formed the basis of the opinions and conclusions and are available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161 (703) 605-6000.

Page Last Updated: 09/01/2015
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