KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, McDonald's outlets selling toxic breads: CSE study

Major multinational fast food outlets — KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Subway and McDonald’s — are selling pizzas and burgers made of breads laced with toxins such as potassium bromate and potassium iodate, says the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

“Except Domino’s, others have denied use (of these chemicals) in a response to CSE,” went its press statement on the study, limited to the geographical area of Delhi. Domino's did not respond to the CSE queries Potassium bromate is a Category 2B carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer. Potassium iodate could trigger thyroid disorders.

According to a Press Trust of India (PTI) report, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India said it had decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives, while it was examining evidence against potassium iodate before restricting its use.

CSE had urged the food regulator to ban the use of the two chemicals with immediate effect.

Bread products of Perfect Bread, Harvest Gold and Britannia were also found with a high amount of these two toxins, CSE said. Unlike in this country, the use of these chemicals in the bread-making sector has been banned in many countries for being hazardous to public health.

“We are seized of the matter. I have told my officials to report to me on an urgent basis. There is no need to panic. Very soon, we will come out with the (probe) report,” Union health minister J P Nadda told PTI.

The CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML), which conducted this study, tested 38 commonly available branded varieties of pre-packaged breads, pav and buns, ready-to-eat burger bread and ready-to-eat pizza breads of popular fast food outlets from Delhi.

“We found 84 per cent of the samples positive with potassium bromate/iodate. We re-confirmed the presence of potassium bromate/iodate in a few samples through an external third-party laboratory. We checked labels and talked to industry and scientists. Our study confirms the widespread use of potassium bromate /iodate, as well as presence of bromate/iodate residues in the final product,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.

“At KFC, we don’t manufacture buns for our burgers. The buns are manufactured and supplied by approved vendors/suppliers as per our global quality and food safety standards. Our suppliers use high quality wheat flour for making burger buns,” Yum! Restaurants (India), which runs Pizza Hut and KFC, told CSE.  

Samples of two other Delhi-based fast food outlets, Nirula’s and Slice of Italy, also tested positive for the two chemicals, said CSE. Slice of Italy denied use of the chemicals to CSE.

Subway Systems India, which runs the fast food chain Subway, similarly defended its breads: “Our breads are made using high quality, protein-rich flour. The bread preparation process is also designed in a way which does not require the dough to go through intensive processing. This helps us produce breads without chemicals like iodates/bromates.”

  • Nearly 84 per cent of 38 commonly available brands of pre- packaged breads tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate

  • One of the chemicals is a category 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans), the other could trigger thyroid disorders

  • FSSAI decides to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives

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