The Bread Scare – Should We Expose Ourselves to Cancer
In a recent report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released on Monday (23 May 2016) an alarming fact has come to the notice of the Public. The CSE says that nearly 84% of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged bread, including pav and buns, tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate, which is banned in many countries as they are listed as “hazardous” for public health. Potassium bromate and potassium iodate are carcinogenic i.e. it can cause cancer.
The Central Government is set to ban use of potassium bromate as food additive in the next 15 days, following the CSE study that claimed presence of cancer-causing chemicals in bread. The move comes after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recommended a ban on use of potassium bromate in the bread industry. “Potassium bromate is one of 11,000 food additives that are allowed in food business. After careful consideration, the FSSAI has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permissible additives,” FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal said.
This harsh reality, that bread-makers are exposing the common man to cancer is nothing short of a criminal act and the bread-makers should be held accountable and prosecuted for such a grave offence. The Indian law provides adequate measures of protection in several laws. However the bread-makers have thrown caution to the winds and only look at profit motive exposing the public to such a dangerous health hazard as cancer. It is believed potassium bromate and potassium iodate helps to preserve bread for a longer time hence it is being used in the production of bread and bakery products.
Under The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 an article of food is deemed to be adulterated if the said food does not meet the nature, substance or quality as expected by the purchaser; or if the food contains any substance which affects the nature and quality of the food; or is a cheaper substance which is being substituted for the food; or if the food is deemed to be contaminated, or poisonous or is injurious to the health of the person consuming it. The provisions of the PFA Act mandate that the manufacturer of the food article is under a responsibility to ensure that the food manufactured meets the specifications and quality mentioned in the Act. The Food Health Authority has the power to take action against any manufacturer if they do not meet the standards set out in the PFA Act.
Under the PFA Act any person guilty of breaching of PFA Act and selling adulterated and sub-standard food article is liable to prosecution and fine. Punishment can range from one year to six years depending on the offence committed and in case of death of a consumer the manufacturer will be liable for imprisonment for life.
The Indian Lawyer