Silver foil Coated Indian Sweets Good or Bad?
We all enjoy sweets (mithai), confectionery and desserts which are coated with silver foil (vark / varakh). This is a age old tradition of using vark in sweets.
Question or rather doubt on if it is safe to eat them has to be explained for each generation.
Let us have a quick understanding of what is Vark? Is it safe to consume sweets coated with vark and paan bedas (betel leaf), supari's (betel nut) wrapped with varakh.
What is Vark?
Varak is made by pounding silver (or)into a sheet a few micrometres ( µ ) thick (0.2 micron to 0.8 micron ), and backed with paper for support; this paper is peeled away before use. It is extremely brittle and breaks into smaller pieces if touched 0.2 micron's extra thin leaves get stuck on hand and then it vanished due to excessively low thickness ( due to thickness close to inter-atomic distance ).
Why do we use Vark in Sweets?
These vark (gold & silver foils) are tasteless and odourless, then why do we use them as garnish.
Vark which is also referred as Varq, Vark, Varak, varakh, varakha is a type of garnish using pure form of gold or silver.
Reasons to use Vark in sweets
- Enhances visual appeal of sweet and acts as a visual treat
- Good for human body (many technical explanations to support this)
- Shows sign of prosperity for the family
You can also see vark coatings in dry fruits (like almond, cashew, dates etc.)
Is it safe to eat Vark coated food?
Gold and silver are approved food foils in the European Union, as E175 and E174 additives respectively. These are not toxic to human body and are safe to eat.
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Warnings About Vark Usage
Silver foils are certified to be safe only if the purity is close to 100% (0.1% deviation allowed). In reality it is very difficult to check and food manufactures can indulge in profit making by compromising the quality of Vark. India does not have control mechanism to check the purity of these vark.
Numerous cases of low quality silver or usage of aluminium is reported. So precaution has to be taken while indulging in these sweets.
Quantity exposed is very less so we will not face immediate health degradation but if consumed for longer run, this can cause severe illness to our body.
Controversy over Vark
Vark manufacturing process may involve usage of animal source intestine (ox-gut). This is a controversial topic as the manufactures claim it is a false news.
In india vark manufacturing is a un-organized sector and there is no quality check or law regulating the entire process.
How is Vark Made (Video)?
Below Video shows us how Silver Foil is made.