In response to mounting pressure from American consumer groups, Heineken has announced that it will change the recipe for Newcastle Brown Ale, replacing its caramel food coloring with roasted malts, according to The Telegraph.
Consumer concern surrounds the use of caramel food coloring in Newcastle’s recipe, the manufacturing of which results in the natural production of 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a chemical compound that has been identified as a potential carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program.[related]
Similar efforts from consumer groups have also prompted beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi to reduce their levels of 4-MEI.
Currently, both the European Food Safety Authority and the FDA have determined that consumption of the chemical is safe under current guidelines, though the state of California has added 4-MEI to its list of known carcinogens.
A spokesperson for Heineken confirmed to The Telegraph that the company would stop using caramel food coloring in its formula for Newcastle.
“The amount used in Newcastle Brown Ale is well within the recommended safe levels set by these bodies, said a spokesperson for Heineken. “However, we listened to consumer concerns that have been expressed, particularly in the USA, and chose to review our recipe. We will now achieve the distinctive coloring and flavour of Newcastle Brown Ale that our consumers enjoy, by using roasted malts instead.”