Sale of cotton candy banned in T.N. after samples reveal use of toxic industrial dye as colouring agent

T.N. Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said following the detection of Rhodamine-B in cotton candy samples, the sale of the candy had been banned in the State

February 17, 2024 11:20 am | Updated 03:43 pm IST - CHENNAI

File photograph used for representational purposes only

File photograph used for representational purposes only

The sale of cotton candy (panju mittai) has been banned in Tamil Nadu after an analysis of samples collected from stalls in Chennai confirmed the presence of cancer-causing chemicals, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian has said.

The recent analysis of several samples found the presence of Rhodamine-B, an industrial dye, that was added in the candy as an artificial colouring agent.

In a press release issued on Saturday, February 17, 2024, the Minister said the analysis of colour soft candy/candy floss samples at the Government Food Analysis Laboratory found that Rhodamine-B was used as an artificial colouring agent. As per the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, therefore, this was confirmed to be substandard and unsafe food, he stated.

Earlier this month, the State’s Food Safety department had conducted raids to check the quality of cotton candy in the city.

The Minister said that use of Rhodamine-B as a food additive in manufacturing, packaging, import and sale as well as serving food containing it at weddings/functions/public events was a punishable offence under the Act. The Commissioner of Food Safety has directed the enforcement officers of the department to take strict action as per the Act, he said.

Health hazards

P. Satheesh Kumar, designated officer, Food Safety Department, Chennai, had earlier explained that Rhodamine-B was a dye that had industrial uses. “It is used in leather colouring as well as paper printing. It cannot be used for food colouring, and has immediate and long-term health hazards,” he said.

As an immediate effect, consumption can cause fullness of the stomach, itching and breathing problems, he said, adding: “When consumed for a long duration, the dye can stay in the body for up to 60 days. It is not excreted from the body and can get deposited in the kidneys, liver and intestine. Long-term consumption can affect kidney function and cause irreversible damage. Similarly, it can affect the liver function and cause non-healing ulcers in the intestine that can turn cancerous. It can also cause neurotoxicity.”

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