Food coloring is widely used in the culinary and food industries with the reason to beautify food products. Bright colors in food are interesting and appetizing. But have you ever wondered whether food coloring used is safe or not? Then what is the danger?

Food coloring is an additive that is added to improve the color of food or drinks. In addition, food coloring can also increase attractiveness, stimulate the senses of vision, uniform and stabilize colors, as well as cover or overcome discoloration. Food coloring is available in various forms, such as liquid, powder, gel, or paste.

Permitted and Prohibited Food Coloring

Food Coloring Allowed

Food coloring is divided into two, namely natural and synthetic (chemical). Natural dyes are made from natural materials such as plants, animals and minerals. According to the Regulation of the Head of the Republic of Indonesia Drug and Food Supervisory Agency (BPOM) Number 37 of 2013 Concerning the Maximum Limit of the Use of Food Additives Dyes, the list of allowed natural dyes is curcumin, riboflavin, karmin and cochineal extract, chlorophyll, caramel, plant carbon, beta- carotene, anato extract, carotenoid, beet red, anthocyanin, and titanium dioxide.

While synthetic dyes are permitted, but their use is limited, including tartrazine, quinolin yellow, FCF yellow, carmoisin, ponceau, erythrocin, allura red, indigotin, FCF diamond blue, FCF green, and HT brown. The synthetic food coloring is obtained chemically by mixing two or more substances into one new substance.

Dangerous Food Coloring

The government has provided a list of dyes that can be used in food. But in reality there are still dyes not for food mixed in snacks. Two of them are often found in Indonesia, rhodamin B and methanyl yellow.

  • Rhodamin B

  • Rhodamin B is a synthetic dye in the form of crystalline powder, and is green or reddish purple. Usually this dye is used to dye textiles, paper, and cosmetic products. But not infrequently rhodamin B is actually mixed into food, such as crackers and snacks, and drinks.

    Rhodamin B has other names such as D and C Red no 19. Food Red 15, ADC Rhodamine B, Aizen Rhodamine, and Acid Brilliant Pink B. This dye is thought to cause cancer, but further research is still needed to confirm these estimates.

  • Metanil Yellow

  • Metanil yellow is a synthetic coloring powder, yellow brown, and soluble in water and alcohol. This one dye is commonly used as textile dyes, paper, ink, plastic, leather, paint, and so on.

    Food or drink mixed with methanyl yellow will usually be bright yellow, glowing, and there is a color dot (uneven color). This coloring can be found in various snacks such as crackers, noodles, tofu, and fried foods.

    When consumed, methanil yellow can cause gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, weakness, and hypotension (low blood pressure). It is feared that long-term consumption of methanil yellow can affect the central nervous system and cause bladder cancer. But further research is still needed to confirm this conjecture.

Be careful when buying colored food or drinks. It might not be the nutrients you get from these snacks, but diseases that can threaten your health. Make sure the products you consume are registered with BPOM. We recommend that you consume healthy foods with balanced nutrition, and naturally without preservatives or dyes, so you avoid the risk of disease.

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