Home » FSS ACT » Carcinogens in bread: Equinox Labs looks at alternatives as way forward

Carcinogens in bread: Equinox Labs looks at alternatives as way forward

Saturday, 28 May, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Government is set to ban the use of potassium bromate and FSSAI has decided to remove it from the list of ingredients used for baking following a recent CSE study, which pointed out that nearly 84 per cent of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads, tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate. This and other aspects of the study and the way forward were highlighted by Equinox Labs in a press release issued here recently.

According to the release, the study pointed out that potassium bromate and potassium iodate are carcinogenic and could lead to thyroid disorders. They have been banned in many countries as they are listed as “hazardous” for public health.

However, according to Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs, and an FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) expert, who consults over 10,000 companies for FSSAI compliance, though it’s a bit difficult to find out a healthier alternative to potassium bromate, this issue has made it very important for food businesses to focus more on testing and compliance with the FSSAI.

He states, “The food safety regulations of 2011 permit up to 50 parts per million (ppm) of potassium bromate and/or potassium iodate in bread whereas in allied bakery products, it is 20 ppm for the two additives. Equinox Labs being India’s largest compliance consultancy and one of the leading lab has some of the clients from the baking industry who have restricted to use of natural ingredients instead of using potassium bromate.”

Meanwhile, offering alternatives, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) stated that ammonium persulfate, ammonium chloride and ascorbic acid were healthier options that food businesses or the baking industry shall use in the near future.

The use of potassium bromate
According to CSE, an approximate per kg price of Rs 330 for potassium bromate, Rs 450 for ascorbic acid and Rs 6,500 for glucose oxidase, the cost of solely using oxidase, were the rates prevalent. These costs are calculated as per 50 ppm and 200ppm, i.e the maximum level of use for potassium bromate and ascorbic acid as per the law and at 20ppm of glucose oxidase as an average is recommended dose. However, in absolute terms, an increase in cost to use these alternatives is insignificant. For a 400 gm of loaf of bread, it is less than 1.5 paisa for ascorbic acid and 2 paisa for glucose oxidase.

Potassium bromate is preferred or rather widely used by food businesses over other additives because of the quality of results that it gives to the texture of the dough and it can be used at any stage of baking. This report says that the cost of potassium being less as compared to its alternatives such as ascorbic acid and glucose oxidase might also be one of the reasons why several FBOs use it.

There are a certain set of standards suggested by FSSAI for additives which are used in the baking industry, wherein use of ammonium persulfate is 2500ppm which is maximum to be used on flour mass bases, its INS number is 923 and excess of which may contact utri carcia and dermatitis. Use of ammonium chloride is 500ppm and the INS number for the same is 510.

Whereas, it says though ascorbic acid being a standard GMP also causes kidney stones, diarrhoea and cancer if it’s consumed in excess.

It is known that Class II preservatives are chemical agents and excess of them can cause health hazards but as compared to potassium bromate, ammonium persulfate is less harmful as per the CSE report.

A material safety datasheet including some of the toxicological information states that carcinogenicity of ammonium persulfate is not listed when tested with National Toxicology Program (NTP), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organization (WHO) body.

Lastly, he suggests that it’s time every food business realises the need to get its food tested and get it made in compliance with FSSAI because at the end, it is the health of the consumer that affects and less amount also counts when it comes to majority of citizens in the country.

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