Many of the food and beverage brands that have recently changed ingredients have done so for kid-friendly foods and drinks. Original Cheerios ditched the GMOs. Kraft took the artificial dye out of some of its Mac & Cheese varieties. Gatorade removed brominated vegetable oil from its sports drinks.
Now one brand is changing ingredients, and kids have nothing to do with it. BBC reports that Britain’s Newcastle Brown Ale is changing its ingredients because of Americans' concerns about the safety of the caramel coloring that gives the beer its hue.
The current formula for Newcastle includes 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a chemical used in caramel coloring that’s derived from ammonia. This chemical is included in many foods and beverages. Although it’s considered safe by “recognized food standards bodies” (meaning the USDA here in the U.S.), Coke and Pepsi no longer use the chemical in their products because of studies linking it to cancer. The state of California has added 4-MEI to its list of carcinogens.
Instead of caramel coloring, Newcastle will now use roasted malts to get its deep brown color. The change is not expected to alter the flavor of the beer.
Heineken, the parent company of Newcastle Brown Ale, admits the change is due to American consumer concerns. It’s not just changing the beer made for the U.S; it’s changing the beer in the U.K., too.
The bottles of Newcastle you’ll find on the store shelves right now still contain 4-MEI. The changes won’t be made until the color and taste “meet the precise standards called for in the beer’s specification.”
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