Re: green dye

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Posted by Maureen on October 11, 2002 at 16:26:02:

In reply to: Re: green dye posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on October 11, 2002 at 13:45:45:

The FDA has a ban on products consisting of coal tar dyes gaining
entry into the U.S. If it is not to be assumed that the FDA is
trying to "cheat" the people who may get a hold of a product that
gets by their people at customs, it is really not be fair to state
that importers/suppliers are trying to "cheat" their customers

If you, who are conducting research just discovered recently that
there is even dye in the henna powders, it is truly not genuine to
say that importers/suppliers are "cheating" their customers if there
may be dye in henna powder.

That becomes one of the problems here...what is done with
information. Putting aside "how" samples are collected for a moment,
and just dealing with what the list presumably indicates, there is no
way to jump to a conclusion that importers/suppliers are trying to
cheat anywone. Collecting data is fine, but any inferences made from
the data collected needs to remain in perspective. And labeling or
implying that suppliers are cheating or cheats is way out of

There are many many ways to reach the same conclusions regarding if a
henna powder is has dye in it. I purchased a lot of henna powders
from an Indian store and looked at all of them with my own eyes. A
few of them were a blue/green...almost emerald. The paste remained
emerald colored. There were big splotches of deep bluish green in
the paste. Looking at all of those henna powders and pastes was good
enough for me to decide there was dye in the paste. My conclusion:
I don't want the dye in my henna powders. Did the store owner a
cheat? I didn't reach that conclusion at all. Since all of these
henna powders were from India, I became particularly concerned with
henna powders from that source. Perusing a number of articles and
websites about Indian dyes, I also learned that there are lots of
problems with dyes from India and that they are known and are part of
an active debate and struggle within India to stop exporters of the
harmful dyes from exporting them and creating a climate in which ALL
dyes from India are now suspect. This rages on in India currently.
Not every exporter of henna powder from India or even dyes from India
are exporting something harmful.

My stand is to state to exporters that I don't want dye in my henna
power...period. But, I can't conclude that every green dye is a coal
tar dye.

I don't think that it is helpful to make people think that they are
being poisoned or harmed by any particle of dye that might be found
in a henna powder unless there is empherical proof that that is
indeed so. It would be important to know at what level a particular
dye may be harmful and also to differentiate between dyes.
Chloriphyl is also a green dye. It is a natural green dye found in
plants. The FDA allows this dye into the U.S. Is this what is being
used in some of the henna powders? I don't know. I maintain my
stand that I don't want any in the powders. But what is safe needs
to be separated out from what is harmful. There are henna powders
that are green with no dyes in them. It is important to not have
people running away from a green henna powder because of some
assumption that green means harmful or that they have been cheated.
People have been running towards green because they were informed
that "green" means good and fresh. That was just not necessarily
so. Anymore than "green" now means harmful and that you have been

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a person selecting a henna
powder because, "I like it...I like the way it stains...I like the
consistency of the paste!" There is nothing wrong with those
selections methods at all. These methods are as valid and perhaps
more so than looking at some list and deciding. Especially since the
list may indicate the presence of a dye but still does not
differentiate between the dyes...does not identify whether or not the
dye is present at a level that is harmful...does not reflect a past
or present presence of the dye...does not indicate the level of
presence of the dye...does not indicate what presence at a particular
level means...and most importantly was not controlled for reliability
of the sample. This is just a partial group of things that I believe
are important before any conclusions are drawn about what a dye speck
revealed through a microscope really means.

That one specimen revealed one henna powder to contain a specific
green dye that had a low level of PPD in it is not sufficient to draw
any conclusions that should be generalized to any other, all other or
a different batch of the same henna powders. That would be much like
saying that I found a fly leg in my soup that looked like a
twig...therefore all other soups with twiggy like things in them have
fly legs in it. That is too broad of a leap. Research just doesn't
allow for such jumps. Laymen can make such leaps. Urban legends are
often based upon just such leaps. But research requires stringent
controls and guarded conclusions.

And that is what this is beginning to sound like to me. Something
that started out and was presented as just a list of what showed up
under a microscope of a few henna powders not carefully selected.
Now it is taking on the feel of a full blown research project and
perhaps even part of a dissertation. I think it is important for
people to know the scope, focus and purpose of such a research
project if they and their's are to be involved in it in any way.

If the purpose is to prove that exporters and suppliers are cheaters
then that should be stated. It should also be stated how one intends
to go about proving that.

If the purpose is to state some very specific characteristics of
henna powder from around the world, gathered at specific times, under
certain conditions, then that should be stated up front. It should
also be stated how one intends to go about gathering the samples and
controlling for reliability of samples obtained (i.e. source,
authentication of date of crop, authentication of origin of

If the purpose is to state that henna powders containing xy and z in
certain quantities and sizes are indicators of poor quality and henna
powders containing ab and c in certain quantities and sizes are
indicators of good quality, then that should be stated up front. It
should also be stated "good" based upon what findings..."bad" based
upon what findings. And I would think those findings should be based
upon emperical data. Ranking has to be based upon something
objective. To indicate something is at the top or bottom of a
list...I would think...should be accompanied by all sorts of
unquestionable evidence about how it got ranked. If it is stated
that the paste from a powder won't, probably, will...go through a
certain size tip, then I would imagine that 1) all the pastes were
actually tried with whatever size tip designated and therefore what
is indicated is what was observed; 2)That there is some generally
accepted paste recipe that most people are using and paste
consistency requirement so that anyone will experience the same thing
the tester observed.

I would hope that the operative word about INFORMED DECISIONS is the
word "informed." There are a lot of questions that need answers
prior to making more than a guess right now about henna powders and
dyes, consistency, what gets through what tip and lots and lots more
questions. It is never necessary to impune the character of groups
of people. It is unwise to label character based upon this list and
any conclusions drawn from it. It is hasty to suggest that any
action be taken based upon any results of the test until there is
more reliability built in.

I think that everyone may be interested in knowing what is in the
powder regardless of whether or not they choose to make that the
deciding factor when making their selection. But people have a right
to decide for themselves what they actually know based upon data
collected. And most people want to know that they know what they
know with absolutely certainty before taking any action that alters
their choices and impacts relationships and perhaps even severs
ties. And people go about "knowing" things in very different ways.
It is important to trust that "knowing" in people. And trust that it
is because people are honorable, responsible and accountable that
they are constantly making decisions and taking actions for the good
of others who have placed some measure of faith in them. That is
what I believe about the people here...that is what that "knowing"
place within me informs me that it is safe to hold onto and act upon.



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