Artificial Food Colours – Health Hazard

pexels-photo-14105All of you must be wondering, why I am writing on this topic when India is gripped by Ganpati festival and markets are already flooded with colorful sweets and fancy bakery items, but I just want to take a moment to make people aware of how we unknowingly consume toxic colored sweets and also offer the same to our GODs.



I was walking on a road one fine afternoon and watched some school kids buy Ice Gola’s from a hawker, I could see their tongue & lips all colored red, green, blue as they were licking profusely, which made me realise how unhygienic it really was. Ignorantly we allow our kids to eat such items, but have we ever thought that the sweet colours poured on these ice gola’s is made up of all toxic colours and locally manufactured substances or mixtures banned by government No Na.., even when our kids are in school and birthdays are celebrated of their classmate’s, many candies and bakery items are shared, all these colorful bakery cup cakes are again the toxic fancy items . Did you know dangerous minerals such as arsenic, copper, chromium, lead, mercury and zinc,  were frequently used as ingredients in colorants?


Do you know what exactly is the purpose of food coloring ?

  • Making food more attractive, appealing, appetizing, and informative.
  • Offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions.
  • Correct natural variations in color.
  • Enhance colors that occur naturally.
  • Provide color to colorless and “fun” foods.
  • Allow consumers to identify products on sight, like candy flavors.

 It’s done just to lure customers in order to buy all jazzy food looking items and to taste variety of flavors in sweets and wine/soft drinks only to make the product look so natural and appetizing in colour so as to make the customer believe that same is made from original fruit or vegetable. It has become mind set of sellers that if food doesn’t look attractive probably the customer may not buy the same.

pexels-photo-1043519.jpegFood industry has created perceptions in the minds of consumers like Coca-Cola means brown, Mango means yellow, KHUS means green, and all sauces will be red. People also carry a notion that yellow/ green colour means lemony flavour or orange colour is associated with orange fruit flavour and we buy them seeing their colours.  We often hear kids yelling “Mummy yellow wala Mango Ice cream chahiye, Green wala Pista Ice cream chahiye…”

photo-1527481138388-31827a7c94d5Bakery is another industry which uses extensive colour to make their cakes colourful which gives you a slobbering effect. Recently on my wedding anniversary my brother in law brought a cake on which my marriage photo (16 years old) was printed and was made from icing by a printing machine, I was astonished and asked him if it was edible as I saw all colours being used to print the photograph on it, I didn’t wanted to spoil everyone’s mood  by asking unwanted questions about the cake, but in corner of my mind I wanted that cake to be tested for toxicity.

Wrong notion grips our mind that in the trending colour foods, if colours are intact it means that the food is edible to consume, just like green ketchup launched by Heinz in 1999.

FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) regulation says that no colouring matter should be added to food unless permitted as per regulations.

But who listens, the synthetic colours are still added in many sweets and candies. As per FSSAI, maximum limits of synthetic colours is usually 100 parts per million of the final food or beverage for consumption.

Recently I was reading about artificial food coloring and was very shocked to learn that it leads to hyperactivity, allergic reactions and tumor growth in human beings.

A Study done by Sumita Dixit—researcher at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Food, Drug and Chemical Toxicology Research Area (IITR)—published by the Journal of Food Science has come to the startling conclusion that Indian sweet makers go overboard with artificial colouring. Specially in the pink and green sweets, yellow and orange jelebis that we consume & relish, Ms Dixit’s study analyzed 2,409 samples of milk-based sweets, cereal-based sweets and savoury products. Of this sample, 83.6% contained permitted colours, but 58% of these were over the maximum allowable concentration limit of 100 mg/kg and the remaining 16.4% contained dangerous non-permitted colours. This has bought the total number of adulterated products in India to 64.8%.

photo-1528732789919-d00668b81f01.jpgThe study showed that Rhodamine B, followed by Orange II and Metanil Yellow, were the two most common non-permitted or banned colours that were used. It is important to note that Rhodamine B is a cancer causing colouring agent that gives a pink colour but is actually meant for use in the plastics and textile industry. It gives a pink colour to sweets and is also used by shrimp paste makers to give it a fresh it a reddish brown hue. In many countries the use of Rhodamine B has been banned for 50 years and attracts a jail term, if used. Metanil yellow, which is widely used, is also banned and a study on rats showed that it affects the brain.

A study, conducted on milk-based sweets consumed in India showed that nearly 60% of food colours used in Indian sweets are well above legal limits and as much as 16.4% are non-permitted colours.

My Question remains, are these regulations being followed and who’s checking and at what intervals.

In conclusion, we are unknowingly exposing our kids and dear once with this kind of attractions

It’s time to wake up and join me by saying NO to Food Adulterations.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sanyukta says:

    Very nice blog. I can say it was informative but moreover I can say we realised this lately.
    We often see food colours but never think so deep in it. It was an eye opener.


  2. Makarand says:

    Nice article. Many a times unknowingly we just go by publicity / some one strongly recommended / food. Tate’s great/ looks great etc. reasons and ignore this aspect.


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