Kolkata civic body cracks down on synthetic colours in biriyani

Kolkata: Following its scanner on bread laced with harmful chemicals, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has now trained its gun on the use of non-permitted synthetic food colours in the celebrated biriyani.

“We have found certain harmful chemicals, including synthetic colours in some biriyani samples in amounts beyond the permissible limits,” Atin Ghosh, member of Kolkata’s Mayor-In-Council (health), said.

“We have received approval from the State Food Commission so that action can be taken against the restaurants and shops that are using the chemicals. We have approached the law department for appropriate legal action,” said Ghosh.

Tests revealed the presence of metallic dyes such as metanil yellow, an industrial dye known to be carcinogen. It imparts a yellow hue to the rice grains in biriyani. Usually saffron is used for the purpose.

“In most cases, the shops selling biriyani on roadsides use metallic colours not saffron,” said Ghosh.

According to food technology expert Utpal Raychaudhuri, metanil yellow is not permitted to be used as food colour but it is extensively employed in the country as it is cheap.

“It is a dangerous toxic chemical as it is lead-based and accumulates in kidney and heart. There is an increase in kidney troubles and in heart disease incidences as well as heightened risk of cancer,” Raychaudhuri said.

In the wake of a study which reportedly found certain harmful chemicals in bread, buns, pavs, pizza bases and other commercially-sold bakery items, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) had last month initiated sampling and testing of such products across the city.

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