The Karnataka health department on Monday banned the use of artificial colours in the preparation of kebabs, including vegetarian, fish, and chicken. According to ‘The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006’, food vendors violating the order could face seven years of imprisonment and a fine of up to 10 lakh.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Karnataka, made this decision after finding dangerous artificial colours in the kebab samples that could significantly harm consumers’ health.

The media reported that the quality of kebabs sold across the state was poor due to the use of artificial colouring. Following the media reports, samples of kebabs sold across the state were collected and tested in Karnataka laboratories.

The results revealed that sunset yellow and carmosine artificial colours, which are unsafe and hazardous to health, were being used in the kebabs.

The department collected 39 samples of kebabs and examined them in the state laboratories. Out of these, eight variants of kebabs tested in the laboratories were found to have harmful artificial colours, especially sunset yellow and carmoisine— Dinesh Gundu Rao, the health minister of Karnataka, wrote on X on Monday.

“The Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 Act prohibits the usage of harmful artificial colours,” added Dinesh Gundu Rao. 

“Stringent action will be taken against restaurants that are found to be using such chemicals for food preparation,” said Dinesh Gundu Rao on the recently introduced artificial food colouring ban on kebabs.

The testing and banning artificial food colouring comes amidst food safety concerns for citizens.

In March, Dinesh Gundu Rao banned the food colouring agent Rhodamine-B, which is widely used in dishes such as ‘Gobi Manchurian’ and cotton candy.

With the ban on food colouring in favourite Indian snacks, Gobi Manchuria and cotton candy, Karnataka had become the third state in South India to ban the use of certain harmful artificial food colourings. The decision followed similar steps taken by Tamil Nadu and Goa after a survey by the Public Health Department, which showed the presence of harmful chemicals in food samples, making them unfit for consumption.