|Dye Meta-nil yellow is widely used in Jelebi India Toda|
The reason why such sweet shops are crowded, in particular, during festival time is, in the past a decade or two, people have developed a sort of apathy toward making sweets etc at home. In this fast track modern life, making sweet at home is a tedious undertaking because, you need all the ingredients at the close reach of your hand and, most importantly, you should know how to make them and mix the required ingredients in the right proportion. In spite of your efforts, you have no idea about the outcome of your sweet and, if it has turned out to be not good, you get a bad rap, let alone disappointment. Weighing all the pros and cons, it will be nice if you buy the sweets at the near-by shop. This way you save your time and your name!! This is the mentality of our women folks nowadays.
As for the colored sweets available on the market, have you ever thought about their quality? Have you ever thought why they are highly color-dyed? To beat competition in the market and also to attract customers, sweet makers add a variety of colors to the thm to make them attractive. Artificial or synthetic food coloring in fast food is a major problem world over and it curtails the joy of eating mouthwatering cake or pudding. Researchers at The Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, after their elaborate study of Indian sweets from various regions, have reported that many colourings used in the Indian sweets and savouries are illegal toxic dyes unfit for use in food industries and human consumption.
Mukul Das and others at the IITR, found that while there has been an overall decline in the use of illegal colors in recent years, they are still widely used. The team detected illegal and potentially toxic colors in around 16% of the sweets and the cap of 100 mg/kg on legal colors is exceeded in many cases - ie 58% fixed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The scientists found six banned dyes in the sweets tested: rhodamine B, orange II, metanil yellow, malachite green, quinoline yellow and auramine. These are mostly used by the paper, leather and textile industries.
Some of the illegal dyes in Indian sweets vary between 23.8 mg/kg to 54mg/kg. These dyes are harmful and may cause cancer if consumed in large quantity. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore reported that Meta-nil yellow used in popular Indian sweets - jelebi or jangiri, is known to cause neurotoxicity in rats. FSSAI rules allow only eight colors to be used in food, and all the others are classed as non-permitted colors (NPCs).
The crux of the matter is most vendors and shops selling sweets and savouries not aware of FSSAI standards are lured to use dyes not permitted by the government. According to V. Sudershan Rao, a food safety expert at National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India 'Right now, there's a uniform upper limit of 100mg/kg, and 200mg/kg in a few cases, for all permitted colors. The cap for food dyes should be reset according to their individual toxicity potential.’
In addition to the above, the government should create an awareness among the sweet makers about the legal limit of the color dyes to be used in sweets and their impact if the legal limit exceeds.
''Most candy, cakes, cupcakes, baked goods, maraschino cherries, fruit cocktail, gelatin desserts, and soft drinks contain these harmful substances, which serve no other purpose than to make so-called food look “pretty” and attract children whose bodies are particularly sensitive to them during the developmental years.'' (vide: https://www.foodmatters.com/article/the-dark-side-of-food-colors-plus-natural-coloring-alternatives)
It is imperative for the government to keep a check on the color dyes for food. and implement strict regulations. Healthy food means healthy India.
Addl. Ref: S. Dixit, S K Khanna, M Das, J. Jour. Food Sci. 2013; DOI10.11/11/1750-3841.12068
T N Nagaraja, T Desiraju, Food Chem Toxicol., 1993, 31, 41(DOI: 10.1016/0278-6915(93)90177-Z)