Raising new health concerns, a new study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found that 84% of bread and bakery samples collected from the national capital contain residues of potassium bromate (KbrO3) and potassium iodate (KIO3) or both.
Long-term health impact of potassium bromate-
Cancer (IARC), there was sufficient evidence that showed the carcinogenicity of potassium bromate.
The chemical was found to cause – renal tubular tumours (adenomas and carcinomas) thyroid follicular tumours peritoneal mesotheliomas in laboratory animals.
Also, long-term carcinogenicity studies and in vivo and in vitro mutagenicity studies showed that potassium bromate was a “genotoxic carcinogen” or a chemical agent that damaged genetic information, causing mutations.
Potassium iodate and health impacts-
Similarly, potassium iodate is not recommended as a flour treatment agent in several countries due to possible higher intake of iodine.
Studies showed that both insufficient and excessive iodine can lead to thyroid disorders, and hypo- and hyperthyroid status in humans, thereby increasing the risk of thyroid cancer.
Although, evidence about the health effects of potassium bromate and potassium iodate were mounting, KbrO3 and KIO3 – both are chemical food additives – which according to Indian food regulations, can be used as flour treatment agents.
Considering that both the chemicals can cause cancer, CSE recommended that FSSAI should prohibit the use of potassium bromate and potassium iodine in making bread and bakery products with immediate effect.
FSSAI to remove potassium bromate from food additives list
After a CSE study claimed that bread contains cancer-causing chemicals, Food regulator 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.
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.
“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,” Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (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.
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.
CSE has also urged food regulator FSSAI to ban the use of potassium bromate and potassium iodate with immediate effect and prevent their routine exposure to Indian population.
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.”
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 bakery.