• Study finds cancer-causing chemicals in Delhi bread

    The bread you eat every day may contain cancer-causing chemicals, a study conducted by a public interest research and advocacy organisation has indicated. Its findings, based on samples collected from Delhi, have prompted the union health minister to seek a report, even as bread manufacturers staunchly denied use of harmful ingredients in their products.

    As much as 84% of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate, according to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

    The two ingredients have been banned by many countries, listing them as “hazardous” for public health, it said. There is no ban on these substances in India. The All India Bread Manufacturer’s Association (AIBMA) denied widespread usage of potassium bromate. “Majority of Indian bread manufacturers do not use potassium bromate. We are going to present our point of view soon,” Treasurer Sudeep Ahuja said.

    Ahuja said some companies use potassium bromate to increase the shelf life of breads. This ingredient is used widely in the US in breads, he claimed, suggesting that the substance isn’t harmful. The association will meet with its members to discuss further course of action and present its views to the government, he said. CSE claimed that while one of the chemicals is a category 2B carcinogen possibly carcinogenic to humans the other one could trigger thyroid disorders.

    The study covered only Delhi. Thirty-eight samples of commonly available branded varieties of packaged breads, including buns,ready-to-eat burger bread and ready-to-eat pizza breads of popular fast food outlets from Delhi were tested by CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory.

    “We found 84% samples positive with potassium bromate or iodate. We reconfirmed the presence of potassium bromate or iodate in a few samples through an external third-party laboratory. We checked labels and talked to industry and scientists,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general of CSE. “Our study confirms the widespread use of potassium bromate or iodate as well as presence of bromate or iodate residues in the final product,” he added.

    McDonald’s India said it doesn’t use potassium bromate or potassium iodate in flour or other ingredients that goes into its buns. “Claims by CSE in their press release and report are completely baseless,” said Vikram Ogale, the company’s director of national supply chain and quality assurance.

    Reacting to the CSE report, Health Minister JP 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 report.”

    CSE said high levels of potassium bromate or iodate were found in sandwich bread, pav, bun and white bread of virtually all top brands. CSE has urged the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, the food regulator, to ban the use of potassium bromate and potassium iodate with immediate effect. Brayden Point Jersey

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