India

India food watchdog for ban on 'toxic bread'

Sales assistants work in the background as breads are displayed in the newly inaugurated Gourmet outlet in Bangalore Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The CSE had collected 38 bread and bakery samples from retail stores, bakeries and fast-food shops in Delhi for its study

India's food watchdog has recommended a ban on the use of a cancer-causing chemical in bakery products.

The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) took the decision after a study found residues of potassium bromate in 84% of samples collected in Delhi.

The study said the chemical "can cause cancer" and should be banned.

The FSSAI said the health ministry would soon issue a formal notification to announce the ban.

"Potassium bromate is one of 11,000 food additives that are allowed in food business. After careful consideration, the FSSAI has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permissible additives," PTI news agency quoted FSSAI chief Pawan Kumar Agarwal as saying.

Delhi-based environmental think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which conducted the study, welcomed the decision but said it was expecting the government to also ban potassium iodate, another toxic chemical, in bakery products.

Both the chemicals are banned in many countries, but India continues to allow their use in bakeries.

The CSE had collected 38 bread and bakery samples from retail stores, bakeries and fast-food shops in Delhi for its study.

"More than 84% of samples tested were found to contain potassium bromate and/or iodate," the study said.

The CSE said potassium iodate "can potentially affect the functioning of thyroid" and it should also be banned.

But Mr Agarwal said that "we have not found enough reason that we should ban it [potassium iodate] in India".

"We are still collecting more evidence around that."

The All India Bread Manufacturers' Association said the chemicals were "considered safe".

Related Topics

More on this story