FSSAI decides to remove potassium bromate from permitted additives list in bread, Health Ministry orders probe

24 May 2016, 02:46 PM
CSE study forces FSSAI to remove potassium bromate from permitted additives list
CSE study forces FSSAI to remove potassium bromate from permitted additives list

In a recent study conducted by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), it has been revealed that the bread that we buy off the shelves every day, could be laced with toxic chemicals which are serious health hazards.

High levels of potassium bromate/iodate were found in sandwich bread, pav, bun and white bread. The study pointed that products of Perfect Bread, Harvest Gold and Britannia were those with higher levels.

“We found nearly 84 per cent of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads, including pav and buns, tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate, banned in many countries as they are listed as "hazardous" for public health,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE. ( Also Read: Alert! Cancer causing chemicals found in top bread brands, says latest CSE report )

CSE also mentioned, “No residues were found in all four tested products of Defence Bakery (Whole Wheat Bread, Jumbo Slices Brown, Brown Bread, Multigrain), one out of four samples of English Oven (Sandwich Bread) and one out of two samples of Nirula’s (burger bread of Chatpata Aloo Burger). Only one brand – Perfect Bread – labels use of potassium bromate. No maker among those tested labels potassium iodate. Only Britannia denied use of potassium bromate or iodate.” 

Products of popular multinational fast food outlets such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway and McDonald’s were found positive with potassium bromate/iodate, researchers said. Besides, samples of two other fast food outlets, Nirula’s and Slice of Italy, also tested positive for potassium bromate/iodate. Slice of Italy denied use of the chemicals to CSE, the green body said. 

CSE recommended that the FSSAI should ban the use of potassium bromate in making bread with immediate effect and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) should also amend relevant available standards. 

In the wake of this, FSSAI today said it has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives while it is examining evidence against potassium iodate before restricting its use. 

The food safety regulations of India allow use of potassium bromate as flour treatment agent in bread and other bakery products.  “Industry members and experts told us that potassium bromate is widely used as it is allowed by law and offers high-quality finish to the final product. When CSE contacted companies whose products were found with potassium bromate/iodate, six out of 12 came forward to deny use of these chemicals. Only one company was found to be labelling the use of potassium bromate,” said Amit Khurana, programme manager, Food Safety and Toxins team at CSE. 

"A scientific panel had recommended removal of potassium bromate from the list of additives. So we have already decided to take it out from the list. Soon it will be notified," FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal told PTI.

"As far as potassium iodate is concerned, we are examining the evidence and soon a decision will be taken," he added.  According to sources, in January FSSAI had decided to remove potassiun bromate from food additives list and had even issued a draft notification.

In its report, CSE claimed that while one of the chemicals is a category 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans), the other could trigger thyroid disorders but India has not banned their use.

Reacting to the CSE report, Health Minister J P Nadda said, "We are seized of the matter. I have told my officials to report to me on an urgent basis. There is no need to panic. Very soon we will come out with the (probe) report." (With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 12:54 PM

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