Permissible Synthetic Food Dyes in India


Since prehistoric times, people have been fascinated with colors. From cave paintings to the latest gadgets, color has been a constant companion of humans. Coloring materials aka ‘dyes’ aren’t just for fabrics but have been added to various types of food to enhance their appeal. Evidently, this coloring chemicals have their origin in natural products, which later expanded to the huge market of artificial food dyes. Artificial food colorings have been in the controversy for many years and scrutinized for being possibly linked to cancer, allergies and hyperactivity. Globally, natural as well as artificial dyes are being cautiously researched and regulated by the food safety authorities. In India, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (now called the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006), has been implemented for the quality assurance of various types of foods and food products, and only eight dyes have been suggested edible, but within prescribed limits. The present article explores the history and journey of these captivating materials which have been brightening our world for more than 3500 years, along with a detailed overview of their physical and chemical properties, and the usage and toxicity of the eight permissible food dyes in India.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jyoti Mittal.

Additional information

Jyoti Mittal is Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal. She is an alumnus of University of Roorkee (Presently, IIT, Roorkee). She has been listed as ‘Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers of the Year 2018’ in the cross field section. Out of 10 Indian highly cited researchers of 2018, she is the only woman scientist receiving this distinction. She works in the field of water treatment and surface chemistry, particularly for the removal of hazardous pollutants like dyes and metal ions from waste water.

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Mittal, J. Permissible Synthetic Food Dyes in India. Reson 25, 567–577 (2020).

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  • Food dye
  • synthetic dye
  • toxicity
  • food safety and standards act