Union Government bans use of cancer causing chemical potassium bromate as food additive

The Union Government has banned use of potassium bromate (KbrO3) as a food additive as it is carcinogenic.

Decision in this regard was taken by Union Health Ministry based on the recommendation of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

FSSAI had recommended the Health Ministry to remove potassium bromate from the list of permissible food additives after a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found out that it is widely prevalent in bread and refined flour

Background

  • The study of CSE had found that 84% of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads, including buns and pav tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate.
  • These two food additives are banned in many countries and listed as hazardous for public health.
  • However, FSSAI has banned use of potassium bromate and not potassium iodate. But as far as potassium iodate is concerned, it has been referred to a scientific panel.

How and Why Potassium bromate is used?

  • Potassium bromate is used as chemical additive in food items in the form of white crystals or powder.
  • It is added to aid baking process as it strengthens the bread dough in order to raise it higher.
  • The KbrO3 powder bleaches the bread dough and increases its elasticity by making tiny bubbles that help the bread rise.
  • In India, the legal permissible limit to add Potassium bromate as chemical additive in food is 50 parts per million (ppm). But, high dosages of it are harmful.

How it is harmful?

A study conducted in Japan in 1982 has found that potassium bromate causes cancer. Following this, many countries including Japan, China, Australia and UK etc. have banned it. Some studies also have showed that potassium bromate is a “genotoxic carcinogen” i.e. a chemical agent that can damage genetic information, causing mutations.

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Categories: India Current Affairs 2017Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017

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