Kashmir’s world famous multi-cuisine Wazwan will face tight lenses of Srinagar’s municipal corporation (SMC) now. Reason: increasing trend to use unpermitted level of artificial dye for mouth-watering presentation has the Valley foodies’ health at peril.
The SMC’s move to enforce strict adherence to food safety norms has come after a number of samples lifted from Srinagar restaurants showed toxic level of colouring agents. Besides, unpermitted level of crude dye, used for colouring clothes, too has found its way to the valley chefs’ kitchens.
“We lifted samples from parts of Srinagar. Most samples had unpermitted level of dye or synthetic colouring, which is very toxic. Artificial and synthetic colours are proving disastrous for public health. The cases of people coughing blood with sputum and releasing it with faecal matter is on the rise after eating Wazwan,” said SMC health officer Dr Shafkat Khan, who has already sealed a few food outlets in Srinagar city.
Kashmir's multi-cuisine- Waswan
The health officer said the number of patients observing problems after eating Wazwan goes up during the wedding season; on in Kashmir valley these days. Red and yellow artificial additives are commonly used to turn dishes reddish for presentation in multi-course Wazwan.
An average Kashmiri wedding consumes 500 to 800 kg of mutton, which goes into the making of around 13 Wazwan dishes. Officials figures suggest that the Valley consumes 51,000 tonnes of mutton worth Rs1,200 crore annually.
"We are worried about the public health as natural colouring agents’ use is going down. We have decided to keep a constant check on Wazwan being prepared for public functions to start with. We have to control the use of artificial dye. Strict action will be taken against violators under the Food Safety Act," said Dr Khan.
Traditionally, Wazwan would use sun-dried red chillies and red cockscomb flower for colouring.
Dr Khan warns that fresh studies on consumption of higher level of artificial colouring have shown disastrous impact on people.
"It can cause changes in behaviour among children. Crude dye can even prove carcinogenic. Studies show that children who eat red dye are more likely to go out of control. It impacts reproductive system as well as thyroid glands," said Dr Khan.
Eight food colours permitted in India are Tartrazine, Sunset Yellow for yellow; Carmosine, Ponceau - 4R and Erithrosine for red; Brilliant Blue and Indigo Carmine for blue; and Fast Green for Green.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act allows maximum limit 100 mg per kg of food or one gm in 10 kg.