The Karnataka government on Monday directed food vendors not to use Rhodamine B, an industrial dye, in snacks such as cotton candy and gobi manchurian.

“Rhodamine is carcinogenic and not edible,” Dr Harishwara, Joint Commissioner for Food in Karnataka, told Scroll. “It is not approved to be used in any food by FSSAI [Food Safety and Standards Authority of India].”

The development comes after the Karnataka Food and Drugs Department collected 25 samples of cotton candy in February following a similar drive in Tamil Nadu.

In 15 samples, officials found that colouring agents were used beyond permissible limits. Six of the samples contained Rhodamine B.

Out of 171 samples collected from gobi manchurian, artificial colours were detected in 107 samples, Karnataka Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said in a social media post.

“Consumption of snacks containing these artificial colours may pose long-term health risks, including cancer,” Rao said. “Therefore, the health department has taken this necessary action. I urge the public to prioritise health and hygiene above all else.”

Those who violate the ban may face imprisonment for up to seven years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.

Last month, the Tamil Nadu government also banned the sale of cotton candy after lab tests found that the food item contained Rhodamine B, reported The Indian Express.

Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian said that the use of Rhodamine-B as a food additive in manufacturing, packaging, import, sale of food or serving food at weddings and other public events would be punishable under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

Rhodamine B is a synthetic dye used in industries as a staining agent and as a tracer dye in groundwater to trace pollutants. Because it is cheaper, it often finds its way into food products, for instance as a colouring agent in red chilly powder, in Chinese food preparations and in cotton candy.