4-methylimidazole in beer

 

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 James W DeMarco
Committee: Langdon Martin, David Coffey, Mark Brenner

The industrial synthesis of artificial caramel coloring creates the potentially carcinogenic bi-product 4-methylimidazole. Beers are not required by the FDA to include a list of ingredients, and often consumers do not know which beer products contain artificial caramel coloring. This study involved testing an array of beer products for the presence of 4-methylimidazole using a derivatization method described in S.C. Cuhna et al., with analysis using a gas chromatograph–mass spectrometer. Previous analyses of beer in Europe have found concentrations of 4-methylimidazole between 1×10–5 g/L and 1×10–3 g/L. These numbers are below the detection limit that was found in this study; all of the beers tested herein did not have detectable levels of 4-methylimidazole.