Only a few bakeries in the south were found using potassium bromate

Food: The Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) issued a notification banning the use of potassium bromate as a food additive on July 4.

The notification comes about a fortnight after the Indian government banned the use of the substance in bread or baked food products.

“All food establishments and individuals manufacturing bread and bakery products are requested to extend their full cooperation and support in implementing this ban,” the BAFRA notification said.

“Its use will not be allowed in any category of food products in the country,” BAFRA officials said.

BAFRA focal officer for food safety, Gyem Bidha said: “We banned the substance as a precautionary measure to ensure food safety.”

BAFRA officials said the substance has been linked to cancer in many  food safety assessments including that of India and Sri Lanka recently.

However, they said it does not mean the bread in the market is unsafe. Officials said the use of the substance at present is limited to a few bakeries in the southern parts of the country.

“We did a survey of the bakeries in the country before implementing the ban and those using the substance were supportive of the idea,” Gyem Bidha said.

The manager of Norbu Bakery in Thimphu, Sonam, said they don’t use the substance.

“We only use calcium and don’t use too much chemicals anyway,” she said.

Food Safety Standards Authority of India banned the substance following a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study that found its presence in bread to cause cancer.

The study found that 84 per cent of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged breads tested positive for potassium bromate.

The food additive is banned in many countries and is listed as “hazardous” to public health. According to the CSE, potassium bromate typically increases dough strength, leads to higher rising and gives uniform finish to baked products.

Tshering Palden