Submitted by alvin on Mon, 2016-05-23 16:38 New Delhi: In a shocking revelation, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found that bread manufactured in India could be laced with toxic chemicals that cause cancer and thyroid related diseases. Majority of Indian bread manufacturers use potassium bromate and potassium iodate to treat flour while making bread, according to a study conducted by CSE’s pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML). These chemicals have been found to be hazardous for public health for they are listed as category 2B carcinogen and the other as trigger to thyroid disorders. Although these substances have been banned in many countries, there is no such regulation in India, the study found. Tests were done on as many as 38 commonly available branded varieties of pre-packaged breads, pav and buns, ready-to-eat burger bread and ready-to-eat pizza breads of popular fast food outlets from Delhi. “We found 84 per cent samples positive with potassium bromate/iodate. We re-confirmed the presence of potassium bromate/iodate in a few samples through an external third-party laboratory. We checked labels and talked to industry and scientists. Our study confirms the widespread use of potassium bromate/iodate as well as presence of bromate/iodate residues in the final product,” says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE and head of the CSE lab. In 1999, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified potassium bromate as possibly carcinogenic (cancer causing) to humans. It was found to cause tumors of the kidney, thyroid and cancer of the abdominal lining in laboratory animals. Considering potassium bromate as a ‘genotoxic carcinogen’, the JECFA (WHO/FAO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives) in 1992 said that “use of potassium bromate as a flour treatment agent was not appropriate”. The EU had already banned its use in 1990 and so did the UK. Subsequently, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Nigeria, Peru and Columbia have also decided against its use. However, the food safety regulations of India allows use of potassium bromate as flour treatment agent in bread and other bakery products. Potassium bromate is a powerful oxidizing agent, use of which makes bread fluffy, soft and gives it a good finish. Under ideal baking conditions, bromate converts into bromide which is harmless. However, this does not seem to happen in practice. “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 or potassium 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,” says Amit Khurana, programme manager, Food Safety and Toxins team at CSE. The study further revealed that high levels of potassium bromate/iodate were found in sandwich bread, pav, bun and white bread. Products of Perfect Bread, Harvest Gold and Britannia were those with higher levels. Also products of popular multinational fast food outlets selling pizza and burger were also found positive with potassium bromate/iodate. CSE researchers want the FSSAI to prohibit the use of potassium iodate as flour treatment agent. “Iodine supplementation through salt has been adequate for Indians. Therefore, the use of potassium iodate in bread could lead to higher iodine intake in people who consume large quantities of bread,” says Bhushan.