Harmful dye found in Canada-bound pickle

Jul 14, 2012, 04:51 IST | Urvashi Seth and Bipin Kumar Singh

After the consignment was found contaminated with Sudan I, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has written to states and union territories to keep a lookout and punish violators

Soon after a consignment of pickle earmarked for export to Canada was seized by the Spices Board in Chennai as it contained the harmful red dye Sudan I, the enforcement department of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked all the states and union territories to look out for other cases of adulteration in local markets and take stringent measures against the violators.

In a Pickle: Sudan I — a dye, typically used for colouring oils, waxes, petrol, shoe polishes, is thought to increase the risk of cancer. Representation Pic.

According to a letter issued to all FDA commissioners, the deputy director of enforcement Dr D S Yadav has raised concerns over the matter, after receiving a sample report of contaminated pickle from the Spices Board Regional office in Chennai. A copy of this letter is with MiD DAY.

The letter says that the consignment that was meant for export to Canada was found contaminated with Sudan-I. Sudan-I dyes are usually used to colour solvents, oils, waxes, petrol, and shoe and floor polish.

Yadav’s letter states: ‘As per this report from the Spices Board, this is a serious issue and hence all states and UTs are requested to make a concerted effort to check such menaces in local markets by taking stringent measures’.

The copy of this letter has been issued to all FDA state commissioners, asking them to take immediate action against violators, if any are found. “We have not yet received any such letter. But if we do, we will definitely collect pickle samples from the market to see if any such product is on the shelf,” said Suresh Deshmukh, joint commissioner (food), FDA Maharashtra.

Sudan I has been a cause for concern for long now. A few years ago, concerns were raised over the fact that Indian chilli contains Sudan I dye, which is banned in Europe and other countries.

What is Sudan I?

Sudan dyes are red dyes that are used to colour solvents, oils, waxes, petrol, shoe and floor polish. Sudan I is a dye, known as CI Solvent 14. There is inconclusive evidence that it might be carcinogenic in some animal species, and it is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as category III (‘not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans’). Sudan dyes (Sudan I, II, III and IV) are not appropriate as food additives for humans, despite the extremely low risk.

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