Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Banned Chemical dyes poisoning our food and can cause liver damage

That yellow-tinted appetizing dum biryani from restaurants or the silver-coated kaju barfi from sweet shops that we love to treat ourselves may not be all safe for consumption and have severe health implications. Despite a government ban on toxic chemical dyes like metalin yellow and silver, food adulteration using these chemical colours is going on unchecked in India.

In fact, biryani samples collected recently from some of the restaurants in Vishakapatnam revealed the presence of metalin yellow. This banned chemical substance was also found in daal and other cooked curries and biryani in eateries. Similarly, the chemically-induced silver colour layer is used by most sweets shops to make the products look attractive. Ideally, a thin silver sheet should be placed on the sweets but lab analysis found that almost all sweet shops, with an eye on profits, use cheap tin foil that is a toxic heavy metal.

Most of cities in India with hundreds of eating joints have only few food inspectors and no exclusive food safety inspection department to keep an eye on things.

Had there been proper and unbiased inspection of all small and big eateries, many food centres will fail the lab test either for adulterating food with banned chemical colours or for using food colours beyond the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) permissible limit.

According to experts, the presence of these toxic and carcinogenic chemical dyes used in food has several adverse impacts on health and can cause irreparable damage to the kidneys and also affect the liver, the two most vital organs. The chemical dyes affect the nephrons and when the kidney can't filter the chemicals, they get deposited in the kidneys and lead to chronic kidney diseases. Again, the toxic and poisonous substances are sent by the body to the liver for treating or processing. When they can't be treated, they start depositing the substance in the liver. After a while, the deposits cause degeneration of the liver and eventually cause liver cancer.

Apart from the more harmful synthetic dyes used as food colouring substances in eateries, bakeries and confectionaries, at times relatively less harmful metal salts are used in raw food, for instance copper sulphate to impart green colour to vegetables. Metal salts usually escape the screening process meant to detect chemical dyes. They pass off as natural colours in High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) Test.


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