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To dye for?

Burma’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is cracking down on the use of use of prohibited chemical dyes in food and cosmetics.

Dr Tun Zaw, the director-general of the FDA, told DVB that it has just concluded inspecting marketplaces in Rangoon as part of a nationwide programme. He said the FDA, which is a branch of the Ministry of Health, has employed health officials who work out of two “mobile laboratories” which have been patrolling towns and cities across the country testing food and cosmetic products for chemical dyes.

“We have found prohibited dyes still being used in food products such as chilli powder, turmeric powder, bamboo shoots, tea leaves, nga-pi (fermented fish) and pickles,” said the official, adding that the use of prohibited dyes in tea leaves – locally known as laphat­ – has declined over the years.

“Our mobile labs are also capable of testing for formalin which is used as a preservative agent in milk and squid,” he said.


Tun Zaw said cosmetics products were also inspected for bleaching agents, and that products that cannot be tested immediately in the mobile labs are sent to laboratories at the Ministry of Health for inspection.

The inspection teams provide the test results to concerned shop owners and municipal market officials.

Tun Zaw said the teams have now finished inspections in Rangoon, Pegu [Bago], Mandalay and Taungoo, and next plans to hit Naypyidaw, Irrawaddy Division and northern Shan State.

The Mandalay Daily on Sunday reported that the mobile teams were checking products for “dangerous agents”.

The Ministry of Health has warned that manufacturers who add prohibited chemical dyes to food products will face legal action under the National Food Law Article 28(a).



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