Yes, caramel color in North America is typically gluten-free, although you should read labels just to be sure.
According to celiac disease expert Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, of Gluten-Free Dietitian, caramel color is an additive made by heating any number of carbohydrates, which could include dextrose, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, starch hydrolysates (like glucose syrup) and sucrose. In North America, wheat is typically not used as a starting ingredient in caramel coloring. Instead, corn is generally used in the U.S. If wheat is used in caramel coloring, the label must say so per the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). In general, if caramel coloring is included on an ingredients label, but does not list wheat as an allergen, it should be safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Beyond Celiac encourages you to learn more about caramel color from Tricia Thompson here on GlutenFreeDietitian.com.
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