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What is Carmoisine food dye and why Karnataka banned its use in chicken kebabs and vegetarian foods

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Food adulteration has become a normal practice, so much so that it feels completely unsafe to eat packaged and outside food. If you can relate to this statement, this piece of information is for you. In a recent incident, the Karnataka health department banned the usage of artificial colours in chicken kebabs, fish and vegetarian food items across the state, after unsafe levels of artificial colours, namely sunset yellow and carmoisine, were found in some kebab samples.

According to the health department, 39 kebab samples were collected from various parts of the state and after the test of these samples, it was found that seven kebab samples had sunset yellow and one contained both sunset yellow and carmoisine.

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In reaction to the report, the department issued an order on June 21 stating, “Such additives, as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products, Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, pose serious health risks to consumers.”

As per the law, the violation of the rules can lead to imprisonment ranging from a minimum of seven years up to a life term and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.

What is Carmoisine?
Carmoisine, also known as Azorubine or Food Red 3, is a synthetic azo dye used as a food coloring agent to impart a red or maroon color to various food products. It is commonly found in candies, beverages, jams, jellies, processed foods, and cosmetics. Carmoisine is assigned the E number E122 and is approved for use in the European Union but is subject to regulation and restrictions in other regions. However, excess consumption of this artificial colour is associated with major health issues. Scroll down to read about its side effects.

Allergic Reactions: Hives, itching, swelling are the common allergic reactions and individuals with a history of allergies or asthma may be more susceptible to allergic reactions triggered by carmoisine.

Hyperactivity and Behavioral Issues: As per studies, carmoisine and other artificial food dyes are also linked to hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children, particularly those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Gastrointestinal Issues:
Excessive consumption of the dye is may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after consuming carmoisine-containing products.

Immune System Effects: Carmoisine may trigger immune responses, causing chronic inflammation or other immune-related issues in sensitive individuals.

Skin Reactions: Carmoisine can cause contact dermatitis or other skin reactions in some individuals, which may occur even when the dye is ingested rather than applied topically.

In March, the state government had banned the use of artificial colours in edible items such as Gobi Manchurian and cotton candy. The ban was imposed after carcinogenic chemicals were found in artificial colours used in food items.

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