Dyes and the FDA...

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Posted by Maureen on August 25, 2002 at 01:32:39:

In reply to: Re: Are there 2 different kinds of Mumtaz? posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on August 24, 2002 at 17:12:15:

This winter, I had a shipment of henna powder from a new supplier I
was trying out that got impounded and sent back to India by the FDA.
The person I spoke with from the FDA kept asking me what was in the
henna powder. I had not seen it because I had not received it. So I
kept saying...rather silly now that I think about it...that nothing
was in it. That it was 100% pure henna powder. The FDA person kept
saying that "something" is in this and that it is not 100% henna
powder and most certainly contained some additives and that the
shipment was not going to gain entry because whatever was in it was
not identified by the manufacturer. I thought it was a bit crazy at
the time because I was not thinking dyes. Since then, I began
picking up a lot of the different boxes of henna powder from my local
Indian store (just out of curiosity) and the degree of dyes in them
as well as the quality of sifting was all over the map. I don't
think I got one that did not have some dye in it. But the degree of
dye in some of the boxes was a bit frightening. It didn't require a
microscope to see the huge green spots throughout the paste and that
they paste always remained this livid frozen green peas green.

What it brings to mind for me is that there are some dyes that are
approved by the FDA and there are some that are not. If I don't know
what dye is in the henna powder, then I don't know if it is an
approved dye or not. And if it is an unapproved dye, then there are
some serious questions as to why a particular dye was not approved.
That to me is the tricky part about the dyes. When it comes to dyes
in a henna powder...well, actually, I don't want it there at
all...But, if it is there, it is important to know what dye it is and
whether or not it is safe to use.

And you are right. For the FDA to begin coming after henna powder
because there are unspecified dyes in it along with all of the other
reasons they are thinking of to stop shipments could prove

After purchasing those boxes from the stores, I began to wonder why
the FDA was stomping down so hard on henna powder that some of the
online suppliers are getting in while allowing some of the henna
powders I was finding in those boxes from off those shelves to get
through. Especially, since I know the folks here are going to do
everthing they can to get the best quality henna powder available for
their own use and for their customers. Some of the boxes in the
stores had no English labeling...no instructions...and clearly
labeled for body use with pictures and all. But, over the summer I
have discovered that the FDA obviously has very big and busy feet.
Because the store I was getting the boxes from to test can't get
their henna powder in from their source anymore...At least not right
now...since July. So the FDA already seems to be cutting off the
supply for some of the small stores. I am wondering how far reaching
this is. I can't imagine that it is just local to Pittsburgh. That
wouldn't make much sense. But the owner of the small Indian store I
was getting those test boxes from was out of every brand of henna
powder except some Shelly powder and paste that was so old the
plastic wrap was yellow and the expiration dates were 1999 and 2000.
I got brands of boxed powder from him over the months that I have
never heard of and no one here has inquired about. One with no
English labeling was to scary to use. It was full of debris and the
powder was more blackish than green and didn't smell like henna at
all and the designs on the box looked black. It didn't even pass
the "Is it henna or something else!" test.

Anyone else checking out their local stores to see if there is a
difference in their availability of henna powder?

That is sort of a good news thing that could lead to bad news.



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