Researchers are recommending a review of food colours in India after finding that the bulk found in popular foods surpass legal limits and almost a fifth of products contain illegal colours.
A study published in the Journal of Food Science found 83.6 per cent of samples used in the research contained legalised colours but 58 per cent of these exceeded the allowable concentration limit of 100mg/kg.
Of the 16.4 per cent of the samples tested that used non-permitted colours, the most common was Rhodamine B followed by Orange II and Metanil Yellow.
Of the four zones, the East zone in India topped in maximum adultration (80.3 percent) both by crossing the approved limit of permitted colours (72.3 percent) and the use of non-permitted colours (28.7 per cent).
Sunita Dixit et al. analysed 2,409 samples of milk-based sweets, cereal based sweets and savoury products mostly commonly consumed based on surveys.
The research found special cause for concern for children. The researchers conducted food frequency questionnaires with 791 people to gauge how often Indian consumers ate products with colours at a national level.
They found that children and adolescents had higher average daily consumption of coloured foods than adults.
“On the basis of average consumption of food commodities and average levels of detected colours, the intake of Sunset Yellow FCF saturates the acceptable daily intake limit to a maximum of 47.8% in children, which is a cause of concern,” the researchers said.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India allows eight synthetic colours in some foods at a consistent level of 100mg/kg. The acceptable daily intake for food colours is between 0.1 to 25 mg/kg body weight per day, foodqualitynews.com reported.
The researchers said the rules need to be reconsidered and governed by technological needs and consumption profiles of food commodities. They feel the vulnerable population should not be exposed to high amounts of synthetic colours.