Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Beware of food colours and adulteration: Most of the foods sold near schools fail the colour test

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Next time you buy badam milk, boondi, chekodi, khova or
pakodi, make sure they do not contain any banned colours. A little
over a hundred such food samples collected by the department of
environment sciences, Andhra
University, Visakhapatnam, and Sri Padmavati Mahila Vishwavidyalaya,
Tirupati, reveal that though these items are supposed to be free of
all colours including the permitted ones, they contain high
concentration of non-permitted colouring agents.

Teams from the two universities collected as many as 128 different
food items from shops, particularly around schools. They found that 25
per cent of food items tested failed the colour test. Even the 75 per
cent of the food items that contain permitted colours have chemicals
in excess of the maximum limit prescribed by the Prevention of Food
Adulteration Act. As against the prescribed upper limit 100 ppm of
colouring agents, a majority of the food items contained colouring
substances as high as 500 ppm. The results were presented at a
nutrition meeting held at NIN here.

The study was conducted by K Praveena and EUB Reddy of Andhra
University, and A Jyothi of Sri Padmavati Mahila Vishwavidyalaya. They
selected shops around schools as colours in food items attract
children and influence them to buy. “Out the 128 samples, 71 per cent
contained permitted colours, 5 per cent contained a combination of
permitted and non-permitted colours and 24 per cent contained
dangerous non-permitted colours. However, 72 per cent of the foods
with permitted synthetic food colours exceeded 100 ppm, and 28 per
cent were within prescribed levels,” they pointed out.

The team found that among the permitted colours the foods contained
erythrosine 29 per cent, tatrazine 28 per cent, carmoisine 3 per cent,
and sunset yellow 3 per cent. They detected the maximum concentration
in jellies (20.823 ppm), chewing gums (4.164 ppm}, nimma billalu {530
ppm}, hard candy {409 ppm} and some miscellaneous foods (1.735 ppm).

Among non-permitted colours, rhodamine and Sudan red are commonly
used. “Some of the foods like almond milk, khova, chekodi, boondi,
pakodi and creamed bun, which are not supposed to contain even
permitted colours as per the PFA Act were found to contain
non-permitted colours,” they warned.

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