In what is being seen as a reprimand, the Delhi High Court not only banned the import of food additive Allura Red AC, it also questioned FSSAI for permitting the use of the prohibited colouring agent. Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul asked the Food Authority lawyer how the prohibited food additive was being imported just on the guidelines of the Chairman of FSSAI.
In its affidavit the Apex food authority said that Codex Alimentarius’ has not banned the use of Allura Red AC. It is for this reason that FSSAI Chairman allowed the import of the chemical even though it is prohibited. Codex Alimentarius standards on food safety and food production and other food related matters are internationally recognised.
Allura Red AC is one of the many High Production Volume Chemicals and goes by many names like Allura Red, Food Red 17, C.I. 16035, FD&C Red 40, E129. A study conducted by Southampton University found Allura Red AC to cause behavioural changes in children. It is for this reason that some European countries have banned this food additive. The FDA however permits the use of the food colouring in some products like cosmetics, drugs and some foods and soft drinks.
Food additives are substances which include antioxidants, preservatives, coloring agents, flavoring agents, anti-infective agents etc. Even though most food additives have little or no nutritional value they are technologically required to
- manufacture food
- preserve flavor
- enhance its taste and appearance
According to FSSAI regulations, all food additives are to be mentioned on the labels along with the quantities of such food items. Food samples must be verified by an accredited laboratory for compliance to the prescribed regulatory limits for each additive. In its affidavit to the Court FSSAI said that there are around 68 private accredited labs which test safety of food items according to regulations of FSSAI.