MANDALAY — The Ministry of Health’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will prohibit all artificial food dye from being sold in Mandalay’s famed Zay Cho market.
“We will give FDA certificates to the shops that sell food on Wednesday, and will officially announce Zay Cho market as free from prohibited dye in food,” said Dr. Kyaw Kyaw, deputy director of the FDA’s Mandalay branch.
According to the FDA’s Mandalay branch, the administration’s decision came after two years of educating the public about taking action to do so. Efforts to ban artificial food dye in the market began as a joint effort between the local FDA branch and Mandalay’s municipal department in March 2016.
“We first educated the vendors. Then we made surprise inspections of the food they were selling. If we found products with artificial dye, we first gave them a warning, and later seized the food. If the vendors ignore the regulation, we will take action under municipal law,” said Dr. Kyaw Kyaw.
In many shops in the market, foods like dried chili, bamboo shoots, pickled tea leaves, preserved fruits and fermented fish pastes were found to use chemical and synthetic dyes, which could affect consumer health.
In early 2018, the local FDA gave certificates to 124 out of 386 shops selling food in Zay Cho market.
“We’ve checked all of the shops and after we give the remaining certificates on Wednesday, we will be able to declare that the market is free of artificial food dye,” said Dr. Kyaw Kyaw.
The administration stated that it would continue to carry out surprise checks on the shops and punish any shop selling prohibited products with a fine of 50,000 kyats under the municipal law.
“If the shop continues selling these foods after a fine, we will revoke its certificate and close the shop for at least one month,” Dr. Kyaw Kyaw added.
The administration said the declaration of Zay Cho market as free of artificial food dye is a first in Myanmar, where consumers are pushing for safer and healthier food options. It added that it would work to do the same in other markets, as well as in other cities and towns.
“The ban was an effort to increase public awareness of the possible health effects of artificial food dye. By knowing these shops don’t sell it, consumers will feel confident that they are buying safe and healthy food,” Dr. Kyaw Kyaw said.