Food & DrinkLifestyle

Protect Children: Two States Ban Cotton Candy Consumption, Gujarat’s Experts Warn – ‘This Slow Poison Could Lead to Cancer’

In bustling markets, city streets, and village lanes across Gujarat, one can often find vendors selling cotton candy, enticing people of all ages to indulge in this sweet treat. It’s possible that there’s hardly anyone who hasn’t savored cotton candy at least once in their lifetime. Known as “Budhina Bal”, cotton candy is recognized in various regions of Saurashtra as a popular delicacy.

Priced as low as 5 rupees and up to 50 rupees per serving, cotton candy catches the eye of passersby, intriguing them with its colors and shapes, sometimes resembling clouds in the sky. However, the time has come to be cautious of this beloved treat. Recent revelations have unveiled the presence of chemicals in cotton candy that pose health risks, including the potential for cancer, alarming both parents and adults alike who are attracted to this sugary delight.

Tamil Nadu Government Reports Alarming Results: Cotton Candy Ban Imposed

Recent reports from Chennai’s Marina Beach in Tamil Nadu have brought forth startling revelations regarding samples of cotton candy collected and subsequently tested in Tamil Nadu’s government laboratories. These tests unveiled the presence of Rhodamine B, a chemical used to dye fabric and leather, in cotton candy. Rhodamine B is highly harmful to the human body. Consequently, the Tamil Nadu government has swiftly imposed a ban on the sale of cotton candy. This move follows a similar ban previously enforced by Puducherry authorities.

The issue of harmful substances in cotton candy is not confined to Tamil Nadu or Puducherry alone, as it affects everyone’s health. Hence, in today’s report, various experts consulted by Divya Bhaskar shed light on the dangers posed by Rhodamine B found in cotton candy, aiming to inform and educate the general public about the risks associated with consuming such products.

Rhodamine B

Understanding the Presence of Harmful Chemicals in Cotton Candy: Expert Insights and Government Initiatives

In Gujarat, even the cotton candy sold undergoes harmful adulteration. The state’s health department is actively involved in addressing this issue. Apart from cotton candy, Rhodamine B, a chemical dye, finds its way into various other products as well. Rhodamine B can cause significant harm to the human body beyond just the risk of cancer. 

To mitigate these risks, comprehensive measures need to be taken. To address queries regarding this matter, insights were sought from cotton candy vendors, gastroenterologist Dr. Kaushal Vyas, uro-oncologist Dr. Vipul Thilva, and the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Department of the Gujarat government, Dr. H.G. Koshia.

How Cotton Candy is Made and the Risks Involved

Cotton candy is made using a special machine accompanied by a handle. The handle spins a bowl inside, where granulated sugar is added. At the same time, color is also mixed in. When the sugar in the machine gets heated, its melted form comes out in long strands resembling threads. These are collected around a small stick made of wood. This process creates the familiar shape of cotton candy that customers enjoy.

Dr. Kaushal Vyas, a seasoned gastroenterologist of 23 years, advises that people should consume only FSSI-approved items. However, cotton candy is often made in places where FSSI regulations may not be strictly followed, compromising hygiene standards. The method of making cotton candy in such places is often subpar. It is usually made in containers made of wood, allowing the harmful elements of wood to directly affect the cotton candy. 

Cotton candy consists of 100% sugar, which is melted and spun into a web-like structure. Recently, Rhodamine B has been found in cotton candy. This chemical is used to dye fabric and leather. However, due to its low cost, it is sometimes used in edible dyes, especially in places where cost-effective colorants are preferred by traders. This chemical can harm organs like the heart and kidneys if consumed.

Dr. Kaushal Vyas, Gastroenterologist

The Health Hazards of Cotton Candy: What Dr. Kaushal Vyas Advises

Dr. Kaushal Vyas has emphasized that while children may be familiar with cotton candy as a treat, it can pose significant health risks, particularly when consumed excessively. He notes that parents should be cautious, especially when children are unwell or have a sore throat, as consuming cotton candy can exacerbate these conditions. Even on regular days, consuming large quantities of sugary treats like cotton candy can be harmful. 

Dr. Vyas warns that indulging in oversized packets of cotton candy, often consumed in one go, is not conducive to good health. Cotton candy tends to stick to teeth and can lead to dental decay over time. Dr. Vyas recommends that even if one chooses to indulge in cotton candy, it should be from a hygienic and well-packaged source. Reading the information on the packet regarding ingredients like color and sugar content is advisable before consumption to make an informed choice about one’s health.

Dr. Kaushal Vyas further emphasized that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that products, wherever they are manufactured or sold, undergo proper scrutiny. In Gujarat, while the use of rodamine-B in cotton candy has not yet come to light, it is imperative for the government to investigate where cotton candy is produced and what kinds of ingredients are used in its production. 

Furthermore, if rodamine-B contamination is found in other products, particularly in the food and safety sector, it should be thoroughly investigated by the authorities. It is crucial for the government to take proactive measures to safeguard public health and ensure that all consumable goods meet safety standards.

Understanding the Risks

Cotton Candy and Health Hazards: Understanding the Risks

Dr. Vipul Thilva, an oncologist providing services at HCG Cancer Hospital in Ahmedabad, shed light on the alarming health risks associated with the use of rodamine-B in cotton candy. He emphasized that cancer and various other illnesses could be attributed to such practices. The discussion delved into the types of cancer that could potentially arise from consuming cotton candy contaminated with rodamine-B and other food items where the carcinogen may be present.

Dr. Tilva underscored that the usage of rodamine-B in food products is not restricted to our country alone; many nations worldwide have imposed bans on its usage. The chemical compound, with just two drops, can immediately render a vibrant pink color, thus being utilized to create immediate effects in food preparations. Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, among other regions, have been noted for using rodamine-B to color cotton candy, raising serious concerns.

He also referred to research papers from top categories worldwide, highlighting the development of certain types of cancer due to the utilization of rodamine-B. This underscores the urgent need for stringent regulations and heightened public awareness regarding the potential dangers lurking in seemingly harmless food items like cotton candy.

Revelations from Underground Research

Dr. Vipul Thilva revealed insights from a study conducted in an underground facility where rats were subjected to food or liquid containing rodamine for 10 days straight. Subsequently, samples of their brains were examined, revealing the presence of a gene known as BCL-2, responsible for cancer. 

Although it wasn’t conclusively proven that cancer resulted solely from rodamine, the gene’s association with cancer was evident. This implies that rodamine exposure can either trigger cancer or play a significant role in its proliferation. When rodamine enters the body, it adversely affects several cells, potentially contributing to carcinogenesis.

Dr. Vipul Thilva, Euro Oncological

Where is Rodamine-B Found?

Rodamine-B is used in various substances, posing risks to health. It’s present in synthetic dyes, causing issues like heart disease, gastrointestinal discomfort, and respiratory problems. Moreover, it can contribute to sugar addiction, leading to increased cravings for sweet foods and subsequent weight gain. Hence, caution must be exercised regarding its consumption.

Apart from cotton candy, many other items contain Rodamine-B. For instance, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, and chili sauce use it to achieve a brighter color. Samples from the past revealed such information. Additionally, carrots are often injected with Rodamine-B to enhance their redness, making them visually appealing. Similarly, fabrics are treated with Rodamine to impart vibrant colors, though the use of artificial dyes should be noted when encountering such items.

Regulation of Cotton Candy in Gujarat

Following the ban on cotton candy in two states, what measures has the Gujarat government’s Food and Drugs Department taken? How are samples collected from Gujarat, and will there be a ban on cotton candy here as well? These questions were addressed by Dr. H.G. Koshia, the commissioner of the Food and Drugs Department.

Dr. Koshia stated that there is no official information available to us regarding the ban on cotton candy in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. However, this news has been circulated through the media. Currently, no such issues have surfaced in Gujarat. Even historically, there haven’t been any reported cases of harm caused by consuming cotton candy. Nevertheless, considering the seriousness of the matter, field staff have been orally instructed to collect samples from the market for laboratory testing. This initiative aims to collect approximately 100 to 150 samples.

Cotton candy primarily consists of sugar and carbohydrates, used for adding color. If these colors are food-grade, they pose no harm. Cotton candy is not produced in large factories but rather at local levels and sold. Therefore, field staff are collecting samples from these sources for testing.

Potential Ramifications of Finding Bromine in Cotton Candy in Gujarat

Dr. H.G. Koshia elucidated that under the new Food Safety Act, hefty penalties are imposed if any item lacks proper labeling or has been adulterated, provided it doesn’t pose health hazards. In such cases, fines up to 5 lakhs can be levied, and if the adulteration leads to health risks, legal action may ensue, which could involve imprisonment and penalties.

Regarding the possibility of detecting bromine in cotton candy sold in Gujarat in the coming days, Dr. Koshia mentioned that reports are typically issued within 14 days after sampling. If no adverse findings emerge from the report, the matter remains unresolved. 

However, if the report indicates issues, discussions will be held with the state health department to decide on further actions. As of now, no official statement has been issued on this matter. After the receipt of sample reports, a thorough analysis will be conducted, and if any hazardous substances are identified, considerations for future actions will be deliberated upon. If a substance is found to be detrimental to health, it could potentially lead to its prohibition across the state or specific regions for up to one year, as per the legislation.

After the ban on cotton candy in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the health department is also taking samples from various places in Gujarat.

How are Samples Obtained and Handled Until Now?

Dr. H.G. Koshia explained that annually, approximately 20,000 to 22,000 food samples are collected across various categories, of which 5 to 7 percent fail the tests. However, the incidence of bromine usage in samples is less than 0.3 percent. Substances causing harmful coloring or containing urea have also been identified in this analysis.

In Ahmedabad, many people, both locals and visitors, flock to the Kankaria Lake area, where cotton candy has been sold at three to four stalls for many years. Zakir Ali, the manager of Stoll, shared with Divya Bhaskar, “I used to sell cotton candy in Mumbai initially. Then, in 2006, I came to Ahmedabad and have been making and selling cotton candy in Kankaria since then. I have three stalls here.”

Dr. HG Koshia, Commissioner, Food and Drug Department

Zakir Ali emphasized, “I have been making and selling cotton candy for years, and we only use food-grade colors. We are aware of the recent bans on cotton candy in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. If the Gujarat government also imposes such restrictions, we will continue making cotton candy without colors.”

Zakir Ali also mentioned that they used to display the box of cotton candy, indicating the colors used. On top of it, the preparation of the red color was labeled as “paramikal synthetic food color.” He claimed that this color is not harmful to health, as stated on the label.

Rahul Sharma

My name is Rahul Sharma. As a passionate writer and explorer, I'm always seeking inspiration in lifestyle, fashion, beauty, food & drink, and travel. With years of experience in the industry, I bring a unique perspective to my writing, blending my love for culture, style, and adventure.