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Is caramel Colour 150d gluten-free?


Caramel colour, also known as plain caramel, is a common food additive that is found in many foods and beverages. Its primary use is for colouring foods brown. Caramel colour is produced by heating carbohydrates, like sugar, corn syrup or starch, in the presence of acids, alkalis, or salts. This process is called caramelization.

There are four main classes of caramel colour that are defined by the reactants used in the manufacturing process:

  • Class I – Plain caramel, made from carbohydrates and sulfite compounds
  • Class II – Caustic sulfite caramel, made from carbohydrates and sulfite compounds in the presence of sulfite and caustic soda
  • Class III – Ammonia caramel, made from carbohydrates and ammonium compounds
  • Class IV – Sulfite ammonia caramel, made from carbohydrates, sulfite and ammonium compounds

Caramel colour 150d belongs to Class IV and is one of the most commonly used food colourings. It is made using food grade reactants that are considered safe for human consumption. However, there has been some controversy around caramel colourings due to 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a potential carcinogen found in some varieties.

So is caramel colour 150d gluten-free? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, and more.

The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. This means avoiding any foods or ingredients that contain gluten. Even tiny amounts of gluten from cross-contamination can be problematic.

Many people on a gluten-free diet pay close attention to food labels. They look for any ingredients that could potentially contain gluten. This includes obvious sources like wheat, barley and rye, but also less obvious ingredients like malt extracts, starch, natural flavours, etc.

Caramel colour seems innocuous enough, but could it contain traces of gluten? Let’s explore this issue further.

Are the Starting Ingredients Gluten-Free?

As mentioned earlier, caramel colour 150d is produced by heating carbohydrates with sulfite and ammonium compounds. According to the FDA, the carbohydrates used are generally corn syrup, sucrose, invert sugar, malt syrup, molasses, starch hydrolysates, and fractions thereof.

The key gluten-containing ingredient here is malt syrup, which is derived from barley. However, many manufacturers use gluten-free carbohydrates like corn syrup or sucrose to produce caramel colouring.

So the starting ingredients may or may not contain gluten, depending on the manufacturer. We need to dig deeper to determine if the manufacturing process removes any traces of gluten.

Does the Manufacturing Process Eliminate Gluten?

The production of caramel colour 150d involves heating the carbohydrates and other reactants at high temperatures ranging from 130-290°C depending on the desired colour intensity. This heating process breaks down the carbohydrates and reactants, caramelizing them to form brown pigments.

Multiple studies have confirmed that the high heat used in caramel manufacturing destroys any traces of gluten from the starting ingredients:

  • One study found that the gluten content in malt syrup dramatically decreased when heated to 200°C for just 2 minutes.
  • Another study showed that treating wheat starch at 153°C for 30 minutes reduced detectable gluten to less than 5 ppm, the safe threshold for gluten-free labeling.
  • Research also showed that heat treating gluten-containing cereal flours at 150°C for 60 minutes degraded gluten protein sequences to the point they could no longer be detected by ELISA tests.

Based on this evidence, even if the starting material contains gluten, the high temperatures used to manufacture caramel colour 150d are sufficient to degrade any residual gluten to well below the 20 ppm limit required for gluten-free certification.

Has Caramel Colour 150d Been Tested for Gluten?

To provide added assurance of being gluten-free, many manufacturers specifically test their caramel colour products:

  • Sensient Colors LLC tests all their caramel colours, including 150d, to verify non-detectable levels of gluten using the R5 ELISA assay.
  • Chr. Hansen Natural Colors A/S states their caramel colours do not contain any detectable gluten and are considered gluten-free by relevant food legislation.
  • DDW, The Color House tests their caramel colours to confirm gluten levels less than 20 ppm using the R5 ELISA method.

So while not required, testing by leading manufacturers further supports that caramel colour 150d does not contain any significant traces of gluten protein.

Is Caramel Colour 150d Labeled Gluten-Free?

In addition to testing, many caramel colour manufacturers clearly label their products as “gluten-free”:

  • Sensient Colors states their caramel colours are considered gluten-free based on gluten testing results.
  • D.D. Williamson’s caramel colours are labeled gluten-free and stated to contain less than 20 ppm gluten.
  • Sethness Caramel Color Company labels their caramel colours gluten-free and safe for celiac disease diets.
  • Ingredion lists their caramel colours as gluten-free on their allergen statements.

So there is widespread consensus among manufacturers that caramel colour 150d and other varieties are gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease. This is supported by testing data and reflects labeling practices.

Is Caramel Colour 150d Used in Certified Gluten-Free Products?

Further evidence that caramel colour 150d is gluten-free comes from its widespread use in products certified gluten-free:

  • Gluten-free beers from breweries like Glutenberg Brewing Company contain caramel colouring.
  • The gluten-free certification program by the Celiac Support Association allows caramel colours.
  • Gluten-free snacks like popcorn, tortilla chips, and crackers list caramel colour as an ingredient.
  • Caramel colour is permitted for use in certified gluten-free products as per the Gluten-Free Certification Program guidelines.

The use of caramel colour 150d in major gluten-free brands and products certified gluten-free confirms its suitability for gluten-free diets.

Should People with Celiac Disease Avoid Caramel Colour 150d?

Based on all the available evidence, there is no reason for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to avoid caramel colour 150d or other caramel colour varieties:

  • Leading celiac disease and gluten intolerance organizations like BeyondCeliac, Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance Group, and state that caramel colour is safe for gluten-free diets.
  • Prominent gluten-free bloggers like Carol Kicinski (Simply Gluten-Free) and Adrianne Urban (Adrianne’s Best Gluten-Free Recipes) use caramel colour without issues.
  • Studies show celiac disease patients tolerate caramel colour without adverse effects or rising antibody levels.

So people with celiac disease and gluten issues do not need to be concerned about consuming caramel colour 150d or other caramel colour varieties. They are widely considered safe and gluten-free.

Are There Any Exceptions?

While caramel colour 150d and most varieties are gluten-free, there are a couple potential exceptions:

  • Malt caramel colour – Some specialty caramel colours are made using gluten-containing ingredients like barley malt. These would obviously not be gluten-free.
  • Cross-contamination – There is a small chance of gluten cross-contamination during manufacturing. So people with celiac disease or strong gluten sensitivities should look for a gluten-free label to be extra cautious.

As long as it is plain caramel colour 150d from a gluten-free manufacturer, it can be considered safe for gluten-free diets. But malt caramel varieties or products without a gluten-free label may rarely pose a risk.


In summary, evidence clearly indicates that caramel colour 150d is gluten-free. The high heat used in manufacturing destroys any potential gluten from the starting ingredients. Extensive product testing confirms caramel colour contains non-detectable levels of gluten well below 20ppm. Caramel colour is explicitly labeled gluten-free by manufacturers, and widely used in foods carrying gluten-free certification and labels. Major celiac disease organizations unanimously agree that plain caramel colour is safe for gluten-free diets. While rare exceptions like malt caramel colour exist, plain caramel colour 150d can be safely consumed by people with celiac disease and gluten intolerances.

Is caramel Colour 150d gluten-free?

Quick Answer:

Yes, caramel colour 150d is considered gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.


Caramel colour 150d is produced by heating carbohydrates like corn syrup or sugar with ammonium and sulfite compounds. This manufacturing process reaches high temperatures capable of destroying any potential gluten from the starting ingredients.

Major caramel colour manufacturers also routinely test their products to verify non-detectable levels of gluten, well below the 20ppm limit for gluten-free labeling.

Additionally, caramel colour 150d is explicitly labeled as gluten-free by manufacturers, and widely used in certified gluten-free foods and beverages.

Leading celiac disease organizations consistently affirm that plain caramel colour, without any barley-derived ingredients, is safe for gluten-free diets.

So there is overwhelming evidence that caramel colour 150d does not contain any significant gluten, and can be safely consumed by those with gluten intolerances or celiac disease. The only exceptions would be specialty malt caramel colours or the minor risk of cross-contamination in facilities.

Key Facts on Caramel Colour 150d and Gluten:

  • Produced by heating carbohydrates like corn syrup or sugar at high temperatures above 130°C.
  • Manufacturing process degrades any potential gluten from ingredients to non-detectable levels.
  • Routinely tested by manufacturers to confirm gluten content below 20ppm.
  • Labeled gluten-free by many major caramel colour producers.
  • Widely used as an ingredient in certified gluten-free products.
  • Considered safe for gluten-free diets by celiac disease organizations.

So in summary, caramel colour 150d contains no detectable gluten and is not a concern for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity based on thorough evidence. Unless specifically labeled as “malt caramel”, it can be safely consumed as part of a gluten-free diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What ingredients are used to make caramel colour 150d?

A: Caramel colour 150d is produced from carbohydrates like corn syrup, sucrose, molasses or starch hydrolysates, along with sulfite and ammonium compounds.

Q: Does caramel colour contain wheat, barley or rye?

A: No, caramel colour 150d does not contain wheat, barley, rye or any other gluten-containing grains. The carbohydrates used are gluten-free sources like corn or sugar.

Q: Can caramel colour be made from malt syrup?

A: Yes, some specialty malt caramel colours can be made using barley malt syrup. However, plain caramel colour 150d is not made with any gluten-containing ingredients.

Q: Is caramel colour used in gluten-free products?

A: Yes, caramel colour is widely used as an ingredient in many certified gluten-free products, confirming it is safe for celiac diets.

Q: Do people with celiac disease have to avoid caramel colour?

A: No, plain caramel colour does not need to be avoided on a gluten-free diet. Leading celiac organizations endorse caramel colour as safe for people with celiac disease.

So in conclusion, caramel colour 150d has been definitively shown to be gluten-free through evidence and consensus from manufacturers, product testing, certifications, and celiac disease experts. People with gluten issues do not need to avoid standard caramel colouring in their diet.

Table on Gluten Testing of Caramel Colours

Company Caramel Colour Variety Gluten Testing Method Test Results
Sensient Colors 150d R5 ELISA assay No detectable gluten
Chr Hansen Class III, Class IV N/A No detectable gluten
DD Williamson All varieties R5 ELISA Less than 20 ppm gluten
Sethness All varieties N/A Gluten-free by FDA standards
Ingredion All caramel colours N/A Gluten-free

Key Takeaways

– Major caramel colour manufacturers extensively test their products using sensitive ELISA assays and consistently find no detectable gluten.

– Test results confirm gluten levels in caramel colours fall well below the FDA limit of 20 ppm for labeling foods gluten-free.

– Multiple companies declare their caramel colours to be gluten-free according to FDA standards based on their stringent testing procedures.

– There is clear consensus among manufacturers based on gluten testing that caramel colours, including 150d, do not contain concerning levels of gluten and are safe for gluten-free diets.

In summary, rigorous analytical testing performed by numerous caramel colour companies provides definitive proof that caramel colour 150d and other varieties are gluten-free and suitable for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerances.