Bread samples collected from Delhi were found to contain high levels of toxic chemicals such as potassium bromate or iodate that can damage human health, according to a study conducted by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE).
The study, conducted by CSE's pollution monitoring laboratory, said Indian bread manufacturers use potassium bromate and potassium iodate for treating flour.
‘Most of the bread made by Indian companies contain potassium bromate or iodate that could trigger thyroid disorders or cancer.’
"The use of these chemicals in the bread-making sector has been banned in many countries because they are listed as hazardous for public health: one is a category 2B carcinogen, and the other could trigger thyroid disorders. India does not ban the use of any of these," the CSE report said.
The CSE tested 38 commonly available branded varieties of pre-packaged pieces of bread, pav and buns, ready-to-eat burger bread and ready-to-eat pizza bread of popular fast food outlets from Delhi.
"We found 84 percent samples positive with potassium bromate or iodate. We re-confirmed the presence of chemicals in a few samples through an external third-party laboratory. We checked labels and talked to industry and scientists," CSE's Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan said.
In 1999, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified potassium bromate as possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. It was found to cause tumors of the kidney, thyroid and cancer of the abdominal lining in laboratory animals.
The European Union had banned its use in 1990. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Nigeria, Peru and Columbia have also banned the use of potassium bromate.