Few days after the fiasco around lead content in Maggi has settled, another storm might be brewing around our bread and fast food outlets. A study by the non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found toxic chemicals in bread that can cause thyroid disorders and possibly even cancer. It has also conducted a series of tests on products of major fast-food outlets like McDonald’s and KFC, and found to contain high levels of chemicals.
The organisation picked 38 samples from outlets in Delhi and tested them for Potassium Bromate and Potassium Iodate, chemicals which are generally used to treat flour meant for baking. As many as 84% samples were tested positive. “Just two slices of bread every day is enough to put us at a higher risk of thyroid and cancer,” says Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director, CSE. Although Potassium Bromate and Potassium Iodate are banned in over 40 countries after warnings from the World Health Organization, including in neighbouring countries like China and Sri Lanka, they are still not banned in India.
As per the All India Bread Manufacturers Association, “Food safety and Standards Authority of India’s regulations permit the use of Potassium Bromate and/or Potassium Iodate at 50 ppm Max for bread and at 20 ppm Max for Bakery purpose, and is considered safe and is widely used in advanced countries like the US “. If these figures are true, then the fault might really be with the govt regulations which have permitted the use of these cancerous chemicals. As per the study data given below, all the samples of bread had chemical concentration less than 17ppm, which is much below than the maximum allowed value. The concentration was found to be even lower in Whole Wheat/Atta bread than in White bread.
The fast-food brands which are under inspection include KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Subway, McDonald’s and Slice of Italy. Out of them, Jubilant FoodWorks, which operates the Domino’s brand, has stated that the flour used by them is not treated with Potassium Bromate or Potassium Iodate. Other brands haven’t issued any statement yet.
Taking a note of the matter, the Union Health Ministry has ordered an investigation into the matter. Health Minister Mr. JP Nadda has said, “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.”
The Logical Indian thinks that it is a serious matter as it involves food which is widely consumed by people in their daily lives. The probe must be done not only at the vendors’ side, but the existing norms of food safety must also be revisited. We hope that the issue will be addressed soon as it threatens to put lives of so many people in danger.
– Abhishek Mittal