Caramel colorings are complex mixtures that are added to a variety of foods and beverages such as sauces, candies, desserts, soft drinks, beers, and liquors. The coloring is produced by heating carbohydrates in the presence of ammonia or other reagents. A byproduct of this reaction is the compound 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), that has been identified as a possible carcinogen in animal models, and has hence been listed as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ by the IARC Monographs. The recommended method for the analysis of 4-MEI and its related compounds is LC-MS, since photo diode array (PDA) detection does not provide sufficient sensitivity for detection of analytes at the levels found in beverage samples. The need to quickly obtain occurrence data for methylimidazoles in food has also driven the need for methods that do not require solid phase extraction (SPE) for sample cleanup or enrichment. In this application note we show a rapid analysis (<8.5 min) for 4-MEI and its isomer, 2-MEI using HPLC separation on a Waters CORTECS Column with mass detection.