Some of India’s states have banned candy floss and others are preparing to over concerns that an artificial dye used for colouring the popular sweet has a cancer-causing substance.

Tamil Nadu in southern India banned the sale of the sweet last week after lab tests revealed it contains Rhodamine-B, a cancer-causing substance.

Puducherry, a union territory, also banned the famous children’s treat while other states are preparing to conduct their tests on the candy popular with children.

Tamil Nadu’s health minister Ma Subramanian said in a statement last week that the lab tests revealed the presence of Rhodamine-B, present in an industrial dye added to the candy as an artificial colouring agent.

He said that as per the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, this was confirmed to be “substandard” and “unsafe” food.

Rhodamine-B is linked to an increased risk of cancer and is banned in food products in Europe and California.

P Satheesh Kumar, designated officer, Food Safety Department, Chennai, was quoted as saying by The Hindu: “It [Rhodomine-B] is used in leather colouring as well as paper printing. It cannot be used for food colouring, and has immediate and long-term health hazards.”

Andhra Pradesh and Delhi are also considering banning cotton candy to protect public health.

Andhra Pradesh’s food safety commissioner said earlier this week that samples are scheduled for testing this week. Following the outcomes of these tests, a decision regarding its ban will be made.

Earlier this month, an order issued by Puducherry’s lieutenant governor Tamilisai Soundararajan stated that sellers who obtain a quality certificate from the food safety department can continue to sell cotton candy.

“Those who have not got the quality certificate can immediately approach the food safety department and get it. After that, they can start selling cotton candy. The faster they get the food safety certification, the faster they can start their business. Until then, the sale of cotton candy is banned,” the order read.

Mr Soundararajan added in a video appeal to people: “We have directed officials to inspect shops that are selling cotton candies, and they will be seized if the presence of this toxic substance is found in the cotton candies.”

According to the National Library of Medicine website, Rhodamine-B ingestion can lead to “oxidative stress, injury, increase in cell apoptosis and brainstem”. It adds that “the use of Rhodamine-B in food for a long time leads to liver dysfunction or cancer, and when exposed to large amounts over a short period, it results in acute poisoning”.


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