Tea powder seized for using coloring agents

PALAKKAD: Food Safety Department’s seizure of three quintals of adulterated tea dust from Nattukal in Kozhinjampara the other day has revealed the use of colouring agents. This was the second time in the month that a large quantity of adulterated powder was being seized from the district.

Tea Powder_Equinox Labs

Food Safety department Assistant Commissioner George Varghese told Express that few days ago five tonnes was seized from the district and another five tonnes from Thrissur district.

Tea powder samples sent to lab

The samples were sent to the Regional Analytical laboratory in Kozhikode and the results were shocking.

The tests revealed that colouring agents like Carmoisine, Ponceau 4R, Sunset Yellow, Tartrazine and Brilliant Blue FCF were used. He said that if the colouring agents were used in the right proportion one would get the required colour.

Colouring agents_Adulteration-Equinox Labs

Carmoisine, Ponceau 4R, Sunset yellow and Tartrazine were azo dyes used as food additives. A major reason for resorting to the use of azo dyes was that it was cheap to produce and it is more stable than other natural food dyes. Carmoisine was another synthetic food dye in the red or maroon colour range. Ponceau 4 R is a bright red synthetic dye which is also a colouring agent. It belonged to a family of dyes called Ponceau dyes. The Brilliant Blue FCF is a reddish blue triarylmethane dye. The Azo dyes were not in the list of approved food colours in USA.

He said that tea powder was used in the’ thattukadas’ (wayside eateries) as most of these shops do not possess any license and they cannot be charged.

Low quality powder

The tea powder is priced less than the reputed brands and the food additives lend a strong flavour. Meanwhile, the Assistant Commissioner said that it was from a rented house in Nattukal that adulterated samples were seized by the officials. The tea powder was neatly packed in one kilogram and half kilogram packets and the rest were kept in sacks. Preliminary investigation has revealed that the powder was being sold in the State under the brand name “Royal tea”. He said that the modus operandi is purchasing low quality tea from companies and after mixing food additives they are dried, again packed and then sold to people. Some officials said that the tea waste was also collected from hotels and were mixed with the powder. The production cost of this powder comes to less than `50 per kilogram. He said that the seized samples from Nattukal has been sent to the Regional Analytical lab and if any chemical agents were found, a case will be filed.

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Source: The New Indian Express

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