Bakeries in West Bengal have reported a sharp fall in production in the wake of a report that claimed presence of cancer-causing chemicals in bread samples of virtually all top brands in Delhi markets. A Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study recently found nearly 84 per cent of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads including pav and buns, testing positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate, banned in many countries as they are listed as “hazardous” for public health.
The Joint Action Committee of WB Bakers’ Association secretary and Lok Sabha MP Idris Ali today said the report has created ‘panic’ and several small-scale bread factories have stopped production.
The state registers a daily production of 10-12 lakh pounds of bread, out of which the city itself requires five lakh pounds, according to WB Bakers’ Coordination Committee secretary Sheikh Ismail Hossain.
“This has created panic among small-scale producers here and a few have already stopped production... For this 30 per cent of the production has been affected,” Hossain told a press conference.
In West Bengal, there are about 4,000 bread manufacturing units, out of which 3,500 are small-scale units, 450 are medium sized and 50 big scale units like Modern, Britannia.
The CSE report had claimed that while one of the chemicals is a category 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans), the other could trigger thyroid disorders but India has not banned their use.
Ali, the TMC MP from Basirhat and leader of the party’s minority cell, claimed that none of the small and medium bread-making factories in the state use potassium bromate and potassium iodate in for treating flour.