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
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
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
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.