Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beware of Food Colors

Abe V Rotor

Food colors in drinks and food.

The case of jubos in tamarind sweet.

All of a sudden when answering the call of nature, I was alarmed to see the color of my urine bright red. I cried, Blood! I tried to compose myself to be able to reach the hospital in the earliest possible time. But what surprised me at the same time was that my fingers were also stained red. I examined the “tamarind sweet” I had just eaten. I found the culprit - Jubos, the dye used in dying shoes. Jubos is used to color the local confectionery. How many food preparations are artificially colored for better presentation? Since that time on I have been very careful with colored foods. Ube cake, anyone?

These are things to remember about food dyes, specially if you suspect of a food or drink to be colored artificially.

• Be familiar with the natural colors of fruits and other food products. There are rare ones though. For example, purple rice cake (puto) comes from a variety pirurutong or purple rice. Ordinary rice flour and ube flour produce the same color. This can be imitated with the use of purple dye.

• Processed foods like smoked fish and ham are colored, usually golden yellow, to be attractive.

• Confectionery products are made to appear like cocoa, coffee, orange, strawberry, grapes and the like, when in fact the ingredients are mainly sugar artificial flavors and food dyes.

• Fruit juices carry dyes to enhance their natural colors. Example, calamansi juice is made to appear like lemon or orange. Softdrinks would look dull and unattractive without artificial colors.

• Cakes and other bakery products may deceive the eye and even the palate. Cake decors are definitely made of food dyes of many colors and different color combinations.

• Artificial colors are filtered by our excretory system so that they appear in the urine. This is not the case of natural colors such as achuete or anatto (Bixa orellana), pandan (Pandanus odoratissimus), ube (Dioscorea alata), and mango (Mangifera indica).

Living with Nature, AVR

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