A Byculla eatery recently had to cough up a penalty of Rs 50,000 to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for using colour in its chicken lollypop.
According to the FDA officials, this is the first time an eatery in the city had to pay such a big amount under the new Food Safety and Standards Authority Act of India (FSSAI) for using colour additives to food items.
Before the enactment of the FSSAI, such cases of food adulteration were sent to the courts. FDA officials had to press charges against the eatery and wait for the judicial outcome.
But under the new act, officials can directly impose a fine on eateries. “We had collected a sample of the food and sent it for laboratory examination, which proved the presence of colouring agents,” said an FDA official.
Rakesh Shetty, owner of the penalised Renault restaurant and bar at Byculla, said: “We were unaware that colour can’t be allowed. Now we have switched to natural colours.”
According to FSSAI, most food items cannot be cooked in colours. “Only a few items such as cakes, ice creams and sweets can be prepared using colouring agents. There are prescribed limits for these too,” said Suresh Deshmukh, assistant commissioner (food), FDA.
“Edible food colour if used in wrong quantities and in food that is cooked at high temperatures can be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Many eateries, tend to add colouring agents to enhance the appearance of a dish,” said Kamlesh Barot, immediate past president, Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI).
“Owners and chefs, who do not have technical education, tend to indulge in this as they are not aware that it is illegal to use food colours,” he added
The FHRAI is now planning to conduct workshops to create awareness among restaurant owners about the act and discourage use of colouring agents.