The history of Caramel Colour goes a long way back. One could say that the
process of caramellisation has been known since the early days of cooking. It
was not until the 19th century, however, that Caramel Colour gained
commercial significance, first as an additive in the brewery industry, and
later, from the early 20th century, in the soft drink industry, when a method
for achieving acid stable Caramel Colour had been developed.
Today Caramel Colour is manufactured using edible carbohydrates such as
glucose or sucrose, which are heated and sometimes mixed with a liquid
reactant (e.g. specified acids or salts) under controlled temperature and
pressure until desired colour intensity is obtained, after which the Caramel
Colour is cooled, filtered and stored until put on the market.
When Caramel Colour is used to colour a product, the particles of the
Caramel Colour must have the same charge as the particles of the product.
Since the charge of product particles may vary, several classes of Caramel
Colour have been developed with different properties. Currently there exist
four classes of Caramel Colours, all four approved as food additives under EU
legislation with the E-numbers E150a, E150b, E150c and E150d.
Caramel Colour is used in a wide range of food products, including but not
limited to soft drinks, beer, spirits, bakery wares, cereals, sauces and gravies
and spice blends. In addition Caramel Colour is used in pharmaceutical,
cosmetics and feed applications.