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New FDA Act prohibits food colouring agents

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under the Food Safety and Standards Act of India (FSSAI), has prohibited use of colouring agents in food in restaurants. The Act only exempts items such as ice-creams, flavoured milk etc., in which colours can be used within permissible quantities.

The FDA recently slapped a fine of `50,000 on a Byculla-based restaurant and bar for using colouring agents in chicken lollipop. Officials from the FDA claimed that an eatery had to cough up such a hefty fine for using colours in food under FSSAI. Prior to the FSSAI Act, FDA officials had to press charges against an eatery in the court and wait for the judicial outcome. Now, FDA officials directly impose a fine as per the provisions in the Act.
Rakesh Shetty, owner of Renault Restaurant and Bar in Byculla, which was fined, said, “We were not aware that food colour is not allowed. Now, we have switched to natural colours such as kashmiri mirch.”
According to the FSSAI Act, any cooked food item cannot be prepared using a colouring agent. “Only items such as cakes, ice-creams and sweets can be prepared using colouring agents, but that also as per the prescribed limits,” said Suresh Deshmukh, assistant commissioner (food), FDA.
“Edible food colour if used in wrong quantities in cooking food is known to be carcinogenic (causing cancer). Many eateries, especially in the unorganised sector, tend to add colouring agents to enhance a food item. For instance, adding colour to make palak greener,” said Kamlesh Barot, former president, Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI). “Those owners and chefs who have not gained technical education tend to indulge in these practices as they are not aware that it is illegal to do so,” he added The FHRAI is conducting workshops to create awareness among restaurant owners about the FSSAI Act. Even FDA officials have been conducting meetings with associations for the same.

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