Govt fixes 15 day deadline to ban potassium bromate

RSTV Bureau
Union Ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Thaawar Chand Gehlot and J P Nadda after a Cabinet meeting on Central Medical Exam NEET.  Photo: PTI

Union Ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Thaawar Chand Gehlot and J P Nadda after a Cabinet meeting on Central Medical Exam NEET.
Photo: PTI

After a Centre for Science and Environment study reported that bread sold in Delhi- National Capital Region contains cancer-causing chemicals, Food regulator FSSAI has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives in two weeks.

“Potassium bromate is one of 11,000 food additives that are allowed in food business. After careful consideration, the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permissible additives,” FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal said.

Addressing a press conference in the capital in Tuesday morning Health Minister Nadda said that his Ministry will take action after FSSAI gives its report on CSE findings and make changes in the list of permissible additives.

“My Ministry has directed FSSAI to examine and report the matters as quickly as possible,” said Nadda.

A report by NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that 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.

According to CSE, potassium bromate typically increases dough strength, leads to higher rising and uniform finish to baked products, while potassium iodate is a flour treatment agent.

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.

Quoting Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Additives) Regulations, 2011, CSE said the maximum level of use of potassium bromate and/or iodate in bread is set at 50 ppm. The maximum level of use of potassium bromate in flour for bakery is 20 ppm, while that of potassium bromate is 20 ppm in maida (refined wheat flour), if used for baking.