NEW DELHI: A day after a Centre for Science and Environment report said that everyday bakery items could have cancer causing substances like potassium bromate, the Food Safety Standards Association of India or FSSAI has said there is no need to panic.
On its part, the food regulator has announced a ban on potassium bromate, an additive that’s commonly used in bakery products, but says eating bread is still ‘absolutely safe’.
Speaking to NDTV, Pawan Agarwal, the CEO of the food regulatory body, said, “As an abundant precaution we have decided that potassium bromate will no longer be permitted as an additive after our panel recommended it though there is limited evidence that it causes cancer. Bread is still safe to consume. Global standards are a reference. We have to develop our own standards for Indian conditions.”
Even though consumers and the food safety regulator were not worried, the markets were spooked impacting the shares of companies that sell bread with some even closing in the red.
Countries like the UK, Australia, Canada, China and Sri Lanka have banned the use of potassium bromate as a flour treatment agent years ago. CODEX, the international body that sets safety standards for food products also considered it unsafe in 2012.
Deputy director general at Centre for Science and Environment Chandra Bhushan said, “There is a lot of scope for FSSAI to improve label practices and standards and of course enforcement is required. Even self-regulation requires regulation.”
Potassium bromate is commonly used as a flour improver in baking but with the ban in place, the question is, will this lead to an overhaul of our regulation system or another Maggi-like scare?