How often do we turn our heads to those colorful food items displayed on trays in shops or footpath stalls and crave for them?
Food sellers across the globe know it very well that adding colours to their products can make the product virtually impossible for us to resist the temptation and hence becomes a sure-shot way to boost their businesses.
Besides processed food, even natural eatables like fruits are not spared.
Also Read: 8 Ingredients That Should Be BANNED In Food
But from the point of view of the customers, whether adults or children, consuming food adulterated with artificial colours is extremely dangerous for health.
However, it's not that food-colouring was always an unhealthy practice. The early Romans had practiced adding colour to their foods through flowers, carrots, mulberries, beets, etc.
The Egyptians, Greeks and Aztec people also used colours that had nutritional and medicinal benefits.
It was from the 18th and 19th centuries that the practice became corrupt. Food adulteration slowly became a major public health concern and countries enacted laws to check the spread of adulteration.
The scenario is no different in India, where public health awareness is yet not up to the mark. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act allows use of certain colours in food items up to 100 parts per million (ppm); and it is must for the manufacturers to specify the use of colours on their food product packages.
Here is a look at the permitted level of food colours in India:
• For Red colour additives like Red Ponceau 4R, Carmoisine, daily intake of 0-4 mg/kg of body weight is acceptable. For Erythrosyne, only 0-0.1 mg/kg is permitted.
• For Yellow colour like Tartrazine and Sunset Yellow FCF, 0-2.5 to 0-7.5 mg/kg is permissible for daily intake.
• In case of Blue, 0-5 mg/kg of Indigo Carmine and 0-12.5 mg/kg of Brilliant Blue FCF are the daily limits.
• For the Green colour, which includes Fast Green FCF, only 0-2.5 mg/kg is permissible for daily human intake.
How serious can the synthetic colours in food be for our health?
Here is a list of damages that artificial colours can cause to our health:
1. Auramine (yellow colour) can severely affect our kidneys and liver and also retard growth. Auramine is used to colour beverages.
2. Metanil yellow makes sweet items like jalebis and laddoos look tempting, but consuming food items adulterated with this colour can badly harm our stomach, kidneys and liver. It can also adversely affect women's reproductive organs. Common symptoms of health hazard caused by this additive are food poisoning and dizziness.
3. Lead chromate (yellow) is a bright yellow colour and is also known as chrome yellow. This additive is added to turmeric powder to make it brighter. Lead chromate is highly hazardous for health, as it can cause anaemia, abdominal pain, hypertension, neurological problem, foetal complications, etc.
4. Rhodamine (pink) is used in sweet items and bright-coloured drinks. Rhodamine causes big harm to the immunity system by breaking down the blood cells. It can also retard growth and damage the kidneys and liver.
5. Sudan Dyes (red) are added to colour chilli powder or curry powder. They are not only highly toxic and can cause liver and kidney ailments, but are even carcinogenic.
6. Dyes like blue and green in food also can cause cancer and affect the nerve-cell development.
Also Read: 9 Warning Signs Of Toxins Inside Our Body
How to avoid artificially coloured food products:
It is not always easy; however, to avoid the adulterated food even after knowing that it causes hazards, here are some tips to avoid them:
• Check the label of food products and avoid those that have colour names with numbers mentioned on them like Red No. 3 or Blue No. 4.
• Have more green fruits and vegetables and organic spices.
• Train children about such harmful food items when they demand for the smae and also raise the issue on consumer platforms.
Next time your kid demands to get that rainbow candy or you find a big laddoo too irresistible to gobble up, always give it a second thought. Artificially coloured foods can bring your family endless miseries if you are not careful enough at this very moment.