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21st March 2024 (10 Topics)

Why has Karnataka banned certain colouring agents?


Karnataka became the third State in South India to ban the use of certain colouring agents in cotton candy and gobi manchurian that are found to be harmful.

1: Dimension- Survey Results

  • Extent of Contamination: The survey conducted by the Public Health Department revealed alarming findings regarding the presence of harmful chemicals in food samples.
  • Unsafe Samples: Out of 25 cotton candy samples collected, 15 were deemed unsafe due to the presence of added colours. Similarly, among the 171 samples of gobi manchurian collected, 107 were declared unsafe as they contained added colours.
  • Immediate Action: Prompt action was taken by the government following the survey results to address the issue of contaminated food items.

2: Dimension- Harmful Chemicals

  • Identified Substances: The unsafe samples of cotton candy contained traces of sunset yellow, tartrazine, and rhodamine-b, while unsafe gobi manchurian samples had tartrazine, sunset yellow, and carmoisine.
  • Regulatory Restrictions: Tartrazine, though an approved artificial food color, has restrictions on its usage, especially in freshly prepared food items. Prolonged consumption of snacks with artificial colors is linked to severe health issues, including cancer, according to health officials.
  • Public Health Concerns: The presence of these harmful chemicals in food items poses significant risks to public health, leading to the urgent need for regulatory action.

3: Dimension- Penalties and Enforcement

  • Legal Ramifications: The Food Safety and Standards Act imposes strict penalties, including fines and jail terms, for violating regulations related to food additives.
  • Imposed Penalties: Offenders using banned chemical substances in food products face fines starting from ?10 lakh and imprisonment ranging from seven years to life imprisonment.
  • Immediate Enforcement: The ban on harmful chemicals is immediately effective, and stringent enforcement measures, including license cancellations and random checks, will be undertaken.

Way Forward

  • Awareness Campaigns: The government aims to raise awareness among manufacturers and consumers regarding the hazards of consuming food items containing artificial colors.
  • Consumer Caution: Consumers are urged to exercise caution and minimize the consumption of food items prepared with artificial colors.
  • Expanded Scrutiny: Apart from gobi manchurian, other popular food products potentially containing harmful colorants, such as kebabs, are likely to undergo scrutiny.

Fact Box: FSSAI

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory body that regulates the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import of food, and establishes standards to ensure food safety.

FSSAI was established under Food Safety and Standards, 2006, which consolidates various acts and orders that have previously handled food-related issues in various Ministries and Departments.

Mains Practice Question

Q Critically analyze the legal framework governing food safety standards in India, with a specific focus on the enforcement mechanisms for regulating the use of artificial additives.

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