However, some researchers propose that 4-MeI be eliminated from foods and beverages in order to reduce any potential or unnecessary risk. The State of California now requires any product that exposes consumers to more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI per day (California OEHHA) to bear a cancer warning label. The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment concluded that amounts below this limit do not cause a significant cancer risk.
Although ConsumerLab.com has not measured amounts of 4-MeI in supplements, the amount in a suggested daily serving of a typical softgel or tablet would likely be significantly less than that found in one can of soda or food containing caramel IV coloring. In fact, ConsumerLab.com has been informed that about 4 mg of caramel is used in coloring a softgel and only about 0.1% to 0.01% (WHO IARC 4-METHYLIMIDAZOLE Monograph) of that would be 4-MeI. Consequently, the amount of 4-MeI in a softgel colored with caramel IV is likely to be only 0.4 mcg to 4 mcg, and one would need to consume 8 to 80 such softgels per day to exceed the California limit. However, as with any potentially harmful substance, you may decide it’s best to eliminate any exposure, when possible.
If you would like to find a supplement that does not contain caramel color, you can read the complete ingredients list provided for each supplement tested by ConsumerLab.com by clicking on the Ingredients link underneath the product name in the results table of each review.
You can also learn more about other coloring agents and ingredients added to supplements in the article about Inactive Supplement Ingredients >>