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Health hazards? Textile dyes discovered in food

Health hazards? Textile dyes discovered in food


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New analytical method reveals fraud
Scientists at the University of Hohenheim have proven the inadmissible textile dye »Reactive Red 195« in additives for food use. "The procedure suggests that an expert was at work here, who knows food law and knows how to circumvent the law through deceptive product declarations," explains Professor Dr. Reinhold Carle from the University of Hohenheim.

It is common practice in the food industry that sausages with natural dyes, for example, have an appetizing appearance. If these substances are contained in "coloring foods", they do not have to be labeled as additives with E numbers on the label. However, natural dyes are usually not very stable to heat and light and must be used in larger quantities.

Probably in 2015 a new product came onto the market that colored intensely and permanently red. It should only consist of natural beetroot and hibiscus extracts, which some food manufacturers doubted. They submitted three samples from Germany, France and Turkey to the University of Hohenheim and had the product tested.

The scientists used a newly developed analytical method that combines liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. In this way it was possible to identify the individual components of the colorant. There were only traces of the beetroot pigments (Betalaine) and no hibiscus pigments (anthocyanins). Instead, all three samples contained the dye »Reactive Red 195«, which is used to dye textiles. The colorant is hardly detectable in food after processing, which makes monitoring difficult.

The effect of »Reactive Red 195« in the body is not yet known. The substance belongs to the azo dyes. Some of them are suspected of causing hyperactivity and attention deficit in children. In the EU, foods containing such dyes must carry the warning "may impair activity and attention in children". The textile dye »Reactive Red 195« was never allowed in food, emphasizes Carle. The results appear in the December edition of the Food Control magazine. (Heike Kreutz, aid)

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