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The study aimed at analyzing the food colours added to various confectionery items vended at the local market of Peshawar. Samples of different types of candies, chocolate beans, fruit jellies, lollipops, sweetened and coated aniseeds and papadhs were analyzed for identification and quantification of the added synthetic food colors. Although majority of branded items contained permitted colors however some items were found to contain non-permitted colors. About 22% items were found with non-permitted colors. Ponceau 4R (20.9%), sunset yellow (18.7%), tartrazine (16.7%), and brilliant blue (14.6%) were the most common dyes identified. Majority of the branded items contained different dyes within the permissible limits however, some non-branded items contained higher concentrations of Carmoisine (375.0±0.9 and 364.8±0.68 mg kg-1) against the permitted limit of 50 mg kg-1. Tartrazine was also found to be higher in non-branded items. The concentrations of naphthol yellow (312±10.43 and 812±21.07 mg/kg) was found to be higher in the non-branded items. The concentrations of brilliant blue FCF were quite higher in some items. The use of green FCF and green S is a matter of food safety as these dyes are phased out in some developed countries. It is concluded that constant vigilance is needed to ensure that local manufacturers comply with the food laws and regulations of food colors. Constant supervision is direly needed not only in terms of non-permitted food colors but also in the control and limits of permitted food colors. Moreover, mass awareness regarding consumption of colored food items is also needed particularly among young children.
Keywords: Concentrations; Confectionery items; Non-permitted colours; Permitted colours; Permissible limits; Synthetic food dyes