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Popular breads contain possible carcinogens, industry denies their use

A new study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Monday claimed that majority of the breads, buns and pizzas are laced with cancer-causing substances.

The CSE said that potassium bromate and potassium iodate are used by the bread industries for treating flour. It is notable that these chemicals are banned across the European Union, and later Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Nigeria, Peru and Columbia.

But they are not banned in India, though in 1999, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified potassium bromate as possibly carcinogenic.

The CSE study nailed many popular brands, including Britannia, Harvest Gold and Perfect Bread. According to CSE, the concentration of potassium bromate/iodate in Britannia's white bread measured 17.12 parts per million (PPM), 2.58 ppm in its whole wheat bread, 5.48 ppm in its brown bread, 15.01 ppm in its pav, 16.74 in its fruit bun.

The levels in Harvest Gold's white bread were 17.32 ppm, its brown bread were 5.48 ppm. Perfect Bread's white bread had 15.01 ppm and its brown bread 8.16 ppm.

The study revealed that only Perfect Bread had listed potassium bromate as an ingredient. For its part, Britannia denied using this chemical in its products.

In a statement, Britannia said it "it does not use Potassium Bromate or Iodate as an ingredient in any of its bread recipes. All Britannia Breads products are in 100 per cent compliance to the existing food safety regulations as stipulated by FSSAI."

It added "FSSAI stipulates usage of all Food Additives in Food Products within per permissible limits. For potassium Bromate/Iodate FSSAI stipulates the permissible limit as 50 ppm max (On flour mass basis)."