Bread makers not to use potassium bromate, iodate; CSE welcomes decision

New Delhi: Leading bread makers on Thursday said that they will give up the use of potassium bromate and potassium iodate in wake of a Centre for Science and Environment study flagging their harmful effects on health, including causing cancer. The CSE welcomed the decision.

The bread makers' decision not to use these chemical additives came days after Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned use of potassium bromate. Meanwhile in West Bengal, production of bread in over 4,000 bakeries has been hit by about 30 percent in wake of the study, said industry associations.

At press conference here, All India Bread Manufacturers' Association said they will not use the two chemicals.

Aadil Hassan, managing director of Harvest Gold Industries, who addressed the media, said they had been earlier using the additives as they had been allowed by the government.

"We will not use potassium bromate and iodate if people don't like it. We were using them as their use was allowed by our government and scientists. We have other enzymes and emulsifiers as their alternate," he said.

Identifying potassium bromate was an oxidizing agent used in the process of making bread and admitting its overuse was harmful, he said that "if used with sophistication, it only adds to the (softness) of the product".

"Potassium iodate never had any use for us. We were using it since government had mandated its use for breads," he said, adding that the AIBMA has decided to give up use of both additives because "there is a confusion among the consumers regarding its use."

The CSE report, released on May 23, said that most of the breads made by the Indian companies are found to contain potassium bromate and potassium iodate - food additives banned in many countries for their adverse effects on human health.

The CSE welcomed the AIBMA decision.

"We have heard what the bread-making association has announced. We are happy that they have decided to stop using potassium bromate and potassium iodate within two-three days. This will reduce public health risk from these chemicals," said CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan in a statement.

He said CSE researchers had pointed out that potassium bromate can possibly cause cancer and use of potassium iodate can lead to excess intake of iodine, which could affect thyroid functions.

Bhushan said CSE had welcomed FSSAI's move to ban potassium bromate. "We urge FSSAI to also ban use of potassium iodate in bread-making," he said.

However, speaking at an event in Delhi, AIIMS director M.C. Mishra said that use of these chemicals might pose some danger but no individual eats entire loaf of bread everyday.

"Majority of people eat a piece or two at the most, so in the long-term, there is no need to panic much as has also been said by the FSSAI," he said.

In Kolkata, West Bengal Bakery Co-ordinators Committee and West Bengal Baker's Association said they will carry out sampling and testing of breads from the bakeries.

"Our daily production ranges from 10 to 12 lakh pounds, but after the reports of bread allegedly causing cancer started doing the rounds on media, our production was affected by 25 to 30 percent in the last couple of days," Sheikh Ismail Hossain, secretary of the committee, told the media.

Hossain and his associates claimed the chemicals were not used in the bakeries in the state.

"They are not used at all. We use lipase and alpha amylase here," he said.

The committee said it has approached the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata to conduct analysis from bread samples.

Trinamool Congress MP Idris Ali, who is a bakery baron, urged people to not shun bread.

"It seems a part of some conspiracy. Bread is safe," said Ali, who is also secretary, Joint Action Committee of West Bengal Baker's Association.

Meanwhile, Nahoum and Sons, the celebrated 113-year-old Jewish bakery in Kolkata, said its sales have not been affected at all.

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