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Additives & Colourings in Indian Food

Additives & Colourings in Indian Food

In a recent study by trading standards headed by Sandwell Borough Council it was discovered that half the dishes tested contained excessive additives.

A consequence of this is that eating Indian restaurant food may be causing asthma and other allergies.

If you thought that eating spicy food may just lead to a bit of indigestion, then think again. It is considered that the colourings - Tartrazine, Sunset Yellow and Ponceau 4R could cause allergies and asthma.

In fact artificial colourings are not required to make curries. Dishes such as Tikka Massala can be coloured by spices alone, but the British public are used to the dishes being brightly coloured, often a vivid red. Many restaurants produce their curries in this way because that is what their customers have come to expect. There is also the widely held notion that the redder a dish is the hotter it is.

Recent press reports have stated that a trading standards swoop on restaurants in the West Midlands, known as Britain's "Balti Belt", found that more than half of the most colourful dishes contained levels of additives that would breach safety rules under some circumstances.

One of the difficulties faced by trading Standards and Environmental Health officers is that current law on the use of colouring applies only to sauces but not to meat or rice.

In a survey on dishes in which the meat is normally marinated to give it colour, such as tandoori and tikka masala some dishes contained colouring levels up to 16 times that permitted by law in a sauce.

Roger Horton, the chair of Sandwell Borough Council environment committee, said: "Consumers believe mistakenly that the brighter the colour, the hotter the dish. Sandwell Council will be pressing for a change in the law.

In that same surver 21 meals were found not to contain any artificial additives, just tomato, paprika, red chillies and turmeric.

One of the main issues is that customers don't realise what they are eating and what the consequences are.

A local Indian restauranteur is reported to have said that "curry fans did not realise how much colouring was being used".

He also said: "It would be safe to say a lot have never seen an Indian-style kebab cooked without food colour. That's how they have been introduced to the food and they think that's how things are supposed to look".

"Indian cooking doesn't need artificial colouring because you can create the colours you want with spices. We need to stop this practice for the sake of our industry."

Eatanddrink Site whole heartedly applaud that sentiment.

What are your views? Can you nominate restaurants that don't rely on artificial colourings to produce dayglo curries? Email us with your views.


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