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Cotton candy is banned over cancer fears: Indian state rules the treat loved by children around the world is dangerous


  • Tamil Nadu brought in the ban after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of Rhodamine-B

An Indian state has banned cotton candy after ruling that the treat loved by children around the world is dangerous.

Last week, Tamil Nadu, a state in the south, brought in the ban after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of cancer-causing substance Rhodamine-B in samples put forward for testing.

Earlier this month, union territory Puducherry banned cotton candy, while other states have started to test samples, BBC News reports.

The treat, also called buddi-ka-baal, meaning old woman’s hair, is beloved by children worldwide, cropping up at fairs and amusement parks.

However, some Indian officials say it is deceptively harmful.

Last week, Tamil Nadu, a state in the south, brought in the ban after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of cancer-causing substance Rhodamine-B in samples put forward for testing (File Photo)

Last week, Tamil Nadu, a state in the south, brought in the ban after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of cancer-causing substance Rhodamine-B in samples put forward for testing (File Photo)

P Satheesh Kumar, food safety officer in Chennai city in the state of Tamil Nadu, told The Indian Express newspaper that the contaminants in the treat ‘could lead to cancer and affect all organs of the body’.

His team infiltrated candy sellers at one of the city’s beaches last week. Kumar said the cotton candy sold there was the product of independent sellers rather than registered factories.

A few days later, the government banned the sale of the treat after lab tests discovered the presence of Rhodamine-B in the samples. 

The chemical compound causes a bright pink colour, which is also used for cosmetics, dye textiles, and inks.

Studies have shown that Rhodamine-B can heighten the risk of cancer. It is illegal to use it in Europe and California for dyeing food.

As the ban in Tamil Nadu was implemented, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said in a statement that using Rhodamine-B in the ‘packaging, import, sale of food or serving food containing it at weddings and other public events would be punishable under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006’.

Neighbouring state Andhra Pradesh is also reported to have started testing cotton candy samples to determine whether or not they contain traces of Rhodamine-B.

The New India Express newspaper reported earlier this week that food safety officials in Delhi were also increasing pressure for a ban on the candy treat.



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