Bread, buns, biscuits and ready to eat pizza breads are some of the most commonly used instant food items. However, a research claims that these products may contain elements which could be carcinogenic to humans.
CSE’s new study tested some of the bread sold in Delhi and found residues of Potassium Bromate and Iodate in commonly consumed varieties.
The use of Potassium Bromate – classified as a category 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans) – is banned in most countries. Also, Potassium Iodate, which contributes to thyroid-related diseases, was found.The group has now recommended an immediate ban on these two chemicals.
In the CSE study results, products of 7 popular fast food Delhi outlets selling pizzas and burgers tested positive for chemicals.
The study shows that 84 per cent of bread and bakery samples collected from Delhi contain residues of potassium bromate, potassium iodate or both. “The use of these chemicals in the bread-making sector is banned in many countries because they are listed as hazardous for public health. India does not ban their use,” a statement released by the Centre for Science and Environment said.
Potassium bromate (KBrO3) and potassium iodate (KIO3) are chemical food additives which, according to Indian food regulations, can be used by bread makers and bakeries as flour treatment agents. Potassium bromate helps achieve high rising and a uniform finish.
But the safety of these additives is under a cloud.
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 tumours 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 banned its use in 1990 and so did the U.K. Subsequently, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Nigeria, Peru and Columbia also decided to ban its usage.
“Globally, Potassium Bromate was allowed to be used on the assumption that the Bromate residues would not be present in the end product. This assumption failed across the world. Residues were being detected even after reducing the allowed limits of use and therefore, countries started banning it. Our study confirms that residues of Potassium Bromate are present in bread sold in India,” Mr. Bhushan points out.