Health & Fitness

Explained: Why Karnataka Banned Use Of Artificial Colours In Gobi Manchurian, Cotton Candy

According to the state government, these food colours often contain agents like Rhodamine-B, which is considered "harmful and unsafe". Details inside.

In a recent development, the Karnataka government has banned the use of colours in food items like gobi Manchurian and cotton candy, citing health concerns. According to the state government, these food colours often contain agents like Rhodamine-B, which is considered “harmful and unsafe”. However, ruling out a complete ban on the food items across the state, Karnataka Health Minister Dinesh Gundurao released an order, stating that strict actions will be taken against the eateries, found to be using artificial colours in the preparation of gobi Manchurian and cotton candy.

The order further stated that any kind of violation would draw “at least seven years in prison and a fine of Rs. 10 lakh”. As per reports, the state government issued this order after sampling around 171 food items from eateries across the state. Of these, “107 were prepared using unsafe chemicals like Tartrazine, Sunset Yellow, Rhodamine-B and Carmoisine,” the report further read.

This development came after the ban on Gobhi Manchurian and Cotton Candy in Goa and Puducherry respectively, citing health risks. In this regard, NDTV Food spoke to Ashwin Bhadri, CEO of Equinox Lab, to understand all about the colouring agent Rhodamine B and its effects on human health.

What Is Colouring Agent Rhodamine B? Why Is It Considered Unhealthy?

Rhodamine B is an organic chloride salt and a synthetic dye that is soluble in water and is widely used for industrial purposes. According to Ashwin Bhadri, the dye poses several health risks, restricting its usage.

He further explains that Rhodamine B disrupts the body’s natural balance, and generates harmful free radicals, further damaging the cells and tissues. In fact, Mr Bhadri warns that consuming food containing Rhodamine B for a longer period may lead to liver dysfunction and other health hazards. However, the severities may vary on the amount of your consumption.

Is Rhodamine B Frequently Used As A Food Colouring Agent?

Ashwin Bhadri states that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has already banned the use of Rhodamine B as a food colouring agent in India, due to its health risks. However, some street vendors use it to enhance the colour of their food items and make them look more palatable.

Despite the ban, Rhodamine B also makes a popular choice among some street vendors due to its affordability and accessibility.

Is It Safe To Use Food Colours?

For most of the world, commercially available food colours are considered safe for use in food preparation, states Ashwin Bhadri. In fact, regulatory bodies like the FDA and WHO thoroughly evaluate these dyes for potential toxicity before they are approved. However, it is always recommended to follow the recommended serving sizes on the packaging.

The Bottom Line:

While allergic reactions are a possibility, that’s not a widespread concern. However, Mr Bhadri mentions that natural colourants like beet juice (red), turmeric (yellow) and blueberries (purple) can add vibrant hues to your dishes, allowing you to achieve impressive results without resorting to artificial additives.

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