Learn about food dyes and an updated list of where to find natural "Butterfly Pea Nasi Kerabu" is on the way!
Artificial Blue may be bright and shiny but it's not really great for you. And that's where the Butterfly Pea flower comes in.
Butterfly Pea flower has been used as a natural food colouring by the Peranakans from the 15th or 16th century. You can find it in dishes such as Pulut Tai Tai and Nyonya Rice Dumplings in Melaka, Penang and Singapore, and also Nasi Kerabu in Kelantan, a state on the East Coast of Malaysia.
Nasi Kerabu is said to have originated from Kelantan in the 15th century. It is among the traditional foods of the Kelantanese Peranakans, a mixture of Chinese and Malay culture due to the migration of Chinese traders.
With commercialisation and perhaps an inaccessibility to Butterfly Pea flowers, some traders have resorted to using "artificial blue" to make Nasi Kerabu. What's so harmful about artificial colours, you may ask?
Toxic Food Dyes: How Food Colouring Poisons Our Body
15 million pounds. That's the amount of food dyes added to the American food supply annually.
That's a shocking piece of statistics to digest, literally. The only purpose of food dyes is to make foods look more aesthetically pleasing to the consumer. There is zero nutritional value. Not only that, they are actually toxic. These are chemicals associated with allergic reactions, asthma, hives, hypersensitivity, hyperactivity, behaviour and attention disorders, irritability, depression, difficulty sleeping, mitochondrial impairment, tumor growth and cancers. That's a lot of scary health issues.
What is artificial blue ?
Also known as brilliant blue FCF (Blue 1), it is a synthetic organic compound used mainly as a blue colorant for processed foods, medications, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. It is classified as a triarylmethane dye and is known under various names, such as FD&C Blue No. 1 or acid blue 9.
What is it made of?
Artificial food dyes are made from petroleum.
Yes, you read that right. Petroleum. It is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for enhancing the colour of processed foods. It's not just in the food industry that you can find these artificial food dyes. You can even find them in the pharmaceutical industry to increase the appeal and acceptability of their products.
What does artificial blue 1 do to your body?
Different coloured dyes have different harmful effects on the body. Artificial blue dyes have been found to cause kidney tumours in mice, it could cause an inhibition in nerve cell development in vitro, skin irritations, bronchial constriction, allergic reactions, nervousness, fatigue and difficulty in concentrating.
Can you spot the difference?
But how will I know if the food I'm consuming has used natural food dyes or artificial ones? It's actually quite simple. Take a look at the three photographs above.
The first one on the left is made using natural Butterfly Pea powder. The colour is slightly darker and even 'dull'. BUT, it's super healthy! (Nasi Kerabu dish by MasterChef Judge Malaysia, ChefJo )
The last on on the right is also made using natural Butterfly Pea powder, but the chef, Miza, prefers to use a light shade of blue so she has used a light version of it. She has even added some Butterfly Pea flowers on the blue rice. (Nasi Kerabu by Indulgence.made in Adelaide)
Now you can definitely spot the one in the middle is the brightest and shiniest and really captures your attention. That's artificial blue!
Is Blue 1 and Blue 2 safe?
Blue 1 has not been known to cause cancer, but it is still pending confirmatory studies. The dye can, however, cause hypersensitivity reactions. Blue 2 cannot be considered safe because of the statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. It really should not be used in foods.
What food dyes should you avoid?
Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 may contain contaminants that are known cancer-causing substances. Benzidine, 4-aminobiphenyl and 4-aminoazobenzene are potential carcinogens that have been found in food dyes. It is a terribly long list of dyes to check and be careful about. Whenever possible, go natural, and choose natural ingredients.
Is blue dye banned?
Blue #1 (E133) and Blue #2 (E132) have been banned in countries including Norway, Finland, and France. It is likely because they have been linked to brain cancer.
Join us in Jeans for Genes' "Bake It Blue" fundraising campaign!
Why we're Baking it Blue
1 in 20 Aussie kids face a birth defect or genetic disease. That's one in every classroom. And it may even be someone you know or love. Pills, injections, hospital visits and traumatic treatments are a part of the daily lives of these children. They don't have the chance to so everyday things we take for granted like running around and just being kids.
My Blue Tea cares about these kids, and the least we can do is to support them and fight beside them. That's why we are doing Jeans for Genes and raising money for the Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI). We want to give these kids better treatments and hopefully, with the support from everyone towards research and treatments, a cure could be found one day.
Join My Blue Tea in raising funds for these kids by clicking on the button below.
"Bake it Blue" - we are literally baking or cooking it "Blue" to also raise funds for CMRI. We have a team of bakers and will be informing you when each baker will be raising and either sell or auction their bakes with all natural Butterfly Pea Blue colour sponsored by us. Our first passionate baker is in Melbourne. Stay tuned.
Where to find Nasi Kerabu in Australia?
We'll share an updated list on where you can find natural Butterfly Pea Nasi Kerabu in our next blog, so watch this space! Here's one to whet your appetite first!
Although Nasi Kerabu originated from Kelantan, Malaysia, it has now migrated to Australia and you can easily get it from street hawkers or Malaysian restaurants. You can find Nasi Kerabu in most major cities in Australia and one of our favourites is at The Sarapan in Perth. Here's a snippet from their instagram - let's watch! (Be careful you don't drool!)
Look at those juicy pieces of Ayam Goreng Berempah and Sambal oozing on the natural colour Butterfly Pea Nasi Kerabu. Mmm... yum! The Sarapan is located at 333, Mill Point Road, South Perth, WA. Enjoy!