Possible Cancer-causing Agent Potassium Bromate Banned as Food Additive

Food additive Potassium Bromate is generally used as oxidizing agent. In case of bakery products like bread, it increases dough strength, and gives higher rising and finishing. However, some studies in past suggested the food additive is possible carcinogenic to humans before Potassium bromate banned. Some countries like the European Union, Canada and Brazil have in fact banned the food additive Potassium bromate. The United States Food and Drug Administration allows limited use of Potassium bromate with labeling. Unfortunately, in India, the use of Potassium bromate as food additive continued after warning issued by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Image of Potassium bromate Used in Bread
Potassium bromate Used in Bread

FSSAI Clarifies Potassium Bromate Banned as Food Additive

In a February 2018 notification, FSSAI clarified about Potassium bromate Banned as Food Additive. It is not allowed under any circumstances, it stated. Earlier in September 2016, FSSAI issued a Gazette notification directing manufacturers of food products to stop using potassium bromate as an additive. The ban came in effect earlier after a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study released in May 2016.

Image of Potassium bromate Used in Bakery products
Potassium bromate Used in Bakery products

CSE Study in Past

In 2016 the Centre for Science and Environment examined 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads in Delhi (India), including pav and buns. They found 84 per cent of them contained high levels of Potassium bromate and Potassium Iodate. Potassium iodate again helps in flour treatment.

Image of Potassium Bromate as Food Additive
Potassium Bromate as Food Additive

The Deputy Director of CSE, Chandra Bhushan explained potassium bromate is possible Cancer-causing agent to humans, and excess use of potassium iodate can cause Thyroid problems. Due to their possible adverse health effects, many countries banned the chemicals. In fact, a joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives evaluated potassium bromate is not acceptable as food additive, as flour treatment agent. To evaluate the risk of potassium iodate, CSE referred it to a scientific panel for study. Officials suggested there are naturally occurring alternatives to Potassium bromate, like Ascorbic acid and Glucose oxidase.

References:

FSSAI Direction: Prohibition of Potassium Bromate
Potassium bromate in food items banned

Prashanth Damarla

I write.

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