13/08/10: Colouring in belacan can cause cancer

Cancer-causing artificial colouring, Rhodamine-B, is still being used in the making of belacan (shrimp paste), said Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

The ministry was aware of the matter and the manufacturers who were using the substance were being monitored.

Last year, two of 115 samples taken from shrimp paste manufacturers were found to contain the chemical which should only be used for plastic or fabric.

Both the samples were obtained from grocery stores in Sarawak and the manufacturer had been charged in court, he said.

Liow cautioned manufacturers not to use the colouring substance because it could pose health risks, including cancer.

Manufacturers who failed to adhere to the directive would face stern action. Non-compliance could result in a fine of up to RM100,000 (S$42,918) or 10 years’ jail or both, he said when responding to a report on the use of the substance in shrimp paste.

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