660 samples found substandard, unsafe in 1 yr; over 1100 prosecution launched since April 2016
SRINAGAR: The Food Safety Department officials have found hundreds of food outlets selling substandard and unhygienic in Jammu and Kashmir using carcinogenic substances as coloring and flavoring agents in popular food items.
According to official figures, over 660 food items were found substandard, misbranded and unsafe for human consumption in last one year as they have been using banned ingredients and synthetic coloring and flavoring agents.
Officials told Kashmir Reader said some of the food outlets were found using carcinogenic coloring agents like Tatrazine and banned flavoring agents in popular food items like Kebabs, Kanti, Biryani, Ice cream and Milk/fruit shakes.
“Most of the food outlets were using banned coloring and flavoring agents which forced us to seize their licenses. We have also launched prosecution against them as per Food Safety and Standard Act and Rules,” they said.
Over 1100 prosecutions have been launched against the violators between April 2016 and March 2017, as per the official data.
Shockingly, the food safety officials have found many food outlets in main business hub Lal Chowk using banned Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in food items.
MSG is a harmful tasting agent which was found in Maggi noodles last year and led to its temporary ban across India.
“Unfortunately people are being served food items mixed with harmful chemicals. This is the highly alarming situation and needs to be checked as soon as possible,” said an officer.
Last month, the Assistant Commissioner Food Safety (Hq) J&K has issued a notice to all the designated officers across the state asking them to keep vigil over the sale of substandard and contaminated food items including milk and cold drinks and proceed under Food Safety and Standard Act and Rules.
Oncologists said that researchers had found that synthetic colouring agents act as carcinogens though not fully classified as yet.
“The colouring agents like Tartizine and Corsimisine which were found in food items are non-permitted to be used in the food products especially spice. If they are used in smoked or grilled food they become more deadly,” doctors said.
Tartazine is carcinogen, says study
Tartrazine is one of the most widely used artificial foods, drugs and cosmetic dyes. It is a nitrous derivative and is known to cause allergic reactions such as asthma and urticaria, as well as having been the focus of studies on mutagenesis and carcinogenesis due to its transformation into aromatic amine sulfanilic acid after being metabolized by the gastrointestinal microflora. 45 male Wistar rats were assigned to a control group (A) or a treatment one (B).
The treatment group received 7.5 mg x kg(-1) x day(-1) of tartrazine daily in drinking water offered ad libitum for ten months from weaning to the age of twelve months. There was a significant increase in the number of lymphocytes and eosinophils of the gastric antrum mucosa. No carcinogenetic changes in any gastric area were observed during the study. As tartrazine belongs to the azo class, it is still a possible food carcinogen. Other studies with different doses and schedules, observing their effects associated to other carcinogens should be carried out if their safe use is to be recommended.