India food watchdog bans 'toxic' bread chemical

Sales assistants work in the background as breads are displayed in the newly inaugurated Gourmet outlet in Bangalore

India's food watchdog has banned the use of a cancer-causing chemical in bakery products, a senior official said.

The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) took the decision after a study found residues of potassium bromate in 84% of bakery product samples collected in Delhi.

The study said the chemical "can cause cancer".

The FSSAI said a notification announcing the ban has been issued.

"FSSAI has banned potassium bromate," PTI news agency quoted the watchdog chief Pawan Kumar Agarwal as saying.

Delhi-based environmental think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which conducted the study, has said it was expecting the government to also ban potassium iodate, another toxic chemical, in bakery products.

"As far as potassium iodate is concerned, it has been referred to a scientific panel," Mr Agarwal said on Monday.

Both the chemicals are banned in many countries, but India continues to allow their use in bakeries.

The CSE had collected 38 bread and other baked food samples from retail stores, bakeries and fast-food shops in Delhi for its study.

"More than 84% of samples tested were found to contain potassium bromate and/or iodate," the study said. (News from BBC)