If you have ever read the labels on the back of a food packages, you might have come across term artificial food colors. I used to wonder what exactly artificial food colors are? Are these food colors allowed for consumption? Do these artificial food colors cause any health-related problems?
What are artificial food colors?
Synthetic or Artificial colors are compounds that are commonly formed from petroleum and are mass produced. The final products undergo severe testing to confirm that they hold no traces of petroleum. According to the FSSAI regulations, food manufacturers can use non-natural colors. However, only specific types of food colors are agreed for consumption, which is based on the regulations. Also, artificial food colors need to be used in foodstuffs according to the tolerable limit set by the food regulatory authority. Moreover, it is necessary to mention color on food labels but this becomes difficult on Indian sweets and savories when they are sold open and not as packaged foods.
Are artificial food colors safe?
Artificial colors allowed for use by FSSAI are safe to consume. These are
- Red food color: Derived from Ponceau 4R, Carnosine and Erythrosine.
- Yellow food color: Derived from Tartrazine and Sunset Yellow FCF.
- Blue food color: Derived from indigo Carmine and Brilliant Blue FCF.
- Green food color: Derived from Fast Green FCF.
Though, even permitted artificial colors may become impure when pure chemicals are not used or when they contain impurities like 4-aminobiphenyl and benzidine, which are impurities. Adulterated synthetic colors can cause health threats like allergic reactions, behavioral changes and sometimes cancer depending on the intake. Since even permitted artificial colors can cause health threats there is a growing demand to replace them with natural colors. Hence, please do check the food labels before purchasing any packaged food for consumption.
This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not corpseed, and have not been evaluated by corpseed for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.
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