Department of General Medicine
A new report was published by the Centre of Environment and Science (CSE) given us cause for concern. CSE's Pollution Monitoring Laboratory conducted some tests between May and June last year with bread samples collected from companies like Harvest Gold,Le Marche, Britannia,KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Slice of Italy ,McDonald's and Subway in Delhi. They created a flutter over its claim that many burger ,bread and pizza samples it tested contained potassium bromate which is possibly carcinogenic and potassium iodate which should cause thyroid-related problems.
Potassium bromate, also called bromate, is an oxidiser used to strengthen the dough and enhance its elasticity. Potassium Bromate and Potassium Iodate act as flour improvers . These chemical additives are mostly used in bread ,flours and bakery products. They helps to hold the bread dough together and make it rise and fluffy. They are also act as bleaching agent to give bread its white look. When used under the right conditions, they may get completely used up but if added overly or the bread is not baked long enough or at a high enough temperature, they may sneak their way as residues in the final product.
Potassium bromate/Potassium iodate are cheaper and more widely available than other food additives, and gives a good end-product. In a low-margin, high-volume and perishable food product like bread, cost and end-product does matter.
In 1964, an expert committee by the World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organization started evaluating the potassium bromate. In 1983, it temporarily accepted a limit of 75 ppm provided there are negligible residues in the end product, and all bromate gets converted into bromide during baking. This limit was later decreased to 60 ppm. After long-term studies, it was considered a ‘genotoxic carcinogen’. In 1992, the committee decided that use of potassium bromate/potassium iodate as a flour treatment agent was “not appropriate”, and also considering there were alternatives. In 1999, the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) classified potassium bromate as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
The European Union, China, Sri Lanka, Canada, South Korea, Brazil, Australia, Peru and Columbia have banned the use of potassium bromate as a treatment agent. The European Union has banned potassium iodate as well. India and the US continue to allow the use of potassium bromate in permissible limits. India allows the use of potassium bromate and/or iodate up to 50 ppm on flour mass level, while the US allows it up to 75 ppm and manufacturers must list the ingredient on food labels. Although, the US officially urges bakers not to use potassium bromate; in California, food containing potassium is needed to have a warning label. Many US bread and bakery manufacturers have voluntarily stopped using it.
Vitamin-C or Ascorbic acid is considered as a healthy alternative to potassium bromate. Glucose oxidase is another option approved by FSSAI in 2015. Other flour treatment agents and food improvers approved by law include ammonium chloride, ammonium persulphate and amylases.
Whether you're looking for a doctor for dealing with your own medical condition, click here to find right physician.
It is any effect of a drug, chemical, or other medicine that is in addition to its intended effect, especially an effect that is harmful or unpleasant.