While the report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has caused panic among consumers and has even resulted in plummeting of sale of bread and bakery products since Monday, Industry body ASSOCHAM has said that the use of potassium bromate – purported to be harmful to health – was being done with the permission and full knowledge of the food regulator.
“The industry will surely be at fault if it was using potassium bromate in violation of FSSAI rules. If at all, there is a problem, it does not lie at the door of the industry, which only would be put to immense loss of consumer confidence and crores of rupees worth of loss. Already, reports suggest a sharp fall in the sale of morning breads and a sense of panic among the homemakers,” ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat said in a report.
ASSOCHAM mentioned that they are all for adoption of internationally accepted food standards. “If at all, the problem is detected, the first contact point for the NGOs and independent organisations should be the government agencies, regulators both at the Centre and state levels,” Rawat pointed out.
“But an impression has been created as if the entire lot of bread manufacturers are deliberately causing risk to the public health. A similar thing had happened in the case of Maggi noodles which finally returned to the market after an effective court intervention, but not without several hundreds of crores of rupees of loss to the manufacturers,” he added in the report.
ASSOCHAM said if India has to scale up its food processing industry , it cannot be left to scare-mongering by NGOs.
“NGOs are free to be watchdogs, but they must realise that their reports and findings should not be targeted only at the industry… While the Government is trying to move towards of ease of doing business by relaxing inspector raj, the NGO policing may harm many times.”
Rawat also advised that the Health Ministry and the FSSAI should immediately come out with a clarification on the bread controversy. If need be, the manufacturers should also engage with the regulators and consumers giving them confidence. “Or else, immense loss of goodwill and financial loss would be caused. As it is, the stock prices of the food companies have come under pressure out of panic,” he said.
On May 24, 2016, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a not-for-profit public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi, released its new study which had highlighted the widespread use and presence of residues of potassium bromate/iodate in bread sold in Delhi.
The study, conducted by CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML), said as much as 84 per cent of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads and ready-to-eat pizza breads of popular fast food outlets from Delhi.
Taking a proactive move on the study, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India yesterday banned the use of potassium bromate in bread manufacturing in India.