CSE-flagged chemicals can be used within limits, say food officials in MP

  • Shruti Tomar, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: May 26, 2016 15:25 IST
FDA officials collect samples from Top-N Town bread factory on Wednesday in Govindpura area, Bhopal. (Mujeeb Faruqui/ HT photo)

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has alerted presence of carcinogenic chemicals in bread samples in Delhi, but the Madhya Pradesh food and drug administration believes that the chemicals could be used within the permissible limits as per the health ministry.

The CSE had recently found that 84% samples of bread, buns, pavs and burgers collected from Delhi outlets contained huge amounts of potassium iodate and potassium bromate which could cause cancer and thyroid disorders. The CSE’s contention has been that the two chemicals could only be used as flour treatment agents, as per the health ministry, and not as additives.

On repeated questioning, FDA joint controller Pramod Shukla maintained that the health ministry allows use of potassium bromate and potassium iodate as additives within the prescribed limits and the FDA could hardly take action against the bakeries without a proper lab test. Therefore, he said they would just check whether the chemicals were present within the permissible limits.

Even a food inspector said, “Potassium bromate is allowed but it is up to a certain limit. We can’t fail the samples if it is tested positive but if the bread improvers contain the chemical more than permissible limit i.e., 50 ppm (parts per million), then we will take proper action.”

The sources said this was for the first time that the FDA would perform a test to check the presence of potassium bromate and potassium iodate in bakery products. Last year, only three of 100 samples failed the FDA test and that too because they didn’t carry proper labels.

The FDA team collected samples from three places on Tuesday. Now, they would conduct chemical test of the samples. “In the factory premises, we didn’t find potassium bromate as they informed that they use D 300, which contain gluten and emulsifier as additives. But, we will check it. We will also hold raid at the restaurant of popular brands,” said food inspector Dharmendra Muniyar .

Sources said that the FDA was not equipped to conduct such tests. In a case of urgency, it sends the samples to a private National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratory.

Even when Maggi samples failed the test, the raids were conducted to collect samples from across the state which were later sent to a private lab in Indore.

Joint controller Pramod Shukla, however, denied that they didn’t have proper facilities. “In this case, the samples will not be sent to other labs. We will do the chemical test in the state laboratory, Bhopal,” he said.

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