Does Cherry Coke Have Red Dye? (Answered)

It is not uncommon for sodas to contain red dye. Mountain Dew Code Red, Ruby Red Squirt, and Barq’s Red Creme Soda are a few examples of soft drinks with red dye.

However, is Cherry Coke one of the sodas that also contains red dye? You will find out below what ingredient is used for the coloring of Cherry Coke.

Cherry Coke & Red Dye

Cherry Coke does not have red dye. Its color comes from caramel color which is commonly made by heating corn syrup or another type of sugar combined with acids, alkalis, and/or salts. A dark-brown liquid or solid is formed which is then used as a color additive in foods and beverages.

Since Cherry Coke is cherry flavored, some people perceive it to be red like the color of cherries. However, Cherry Coke is actually a dark brown color. Red dye is not needed in this beverage since the caramel color provides adequate coloring.

U.S. regulations require that synthetic dyes like Red #40 be disclosed in the list of ingredients on the label. Even colors that come from natural sources must be disclosed such as those derived from grape skins or beets. These are known as exempt-from-certification colors and will often be listed as “colored with vegetable juice” or “colored with fruit juice” for example.

A review of the ingredients for Cherry Coke (see below) shows no indication that red dye is used. Its third ingredient is caramel color which is where Cherry Coke gets its color.

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors, Caffeine.

SEE ALSO>>>Does Have Orange Gatorade Have Red Dye?

Is Caramel Color Safe?

Caramel color has been used for well over a century in foods and beverages with the FDA currently regarding it as safe for consumption. A concern with caramel color is a chemical compound sometimes in it called 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI).

This chemical is formed during the cooking process and is believed to be a potential carcinogen based on studies of mice. However, the studies used levels of 4-MEI that greatly exceeded what humans would consume. The amount of 4-MEI found in our food and beverages is believed not to be at a level that is dangerous to humans.

Additional research is needed on 4-methylimidazole. You may wish to limit or eliminate the amount of caramel color in your diet if it is a concern for you.

McAvoy, S. A. (2017, June 7). Color additives. Sensient Food Colors. Retrieved December 17, 2022, from
Is caramel color safe? – learn: DDW the color house. DDW. (2021, March 24). Retrieved December 23, 2022, from