Bread production hit by 30 percent in Bengal, say bakeries

Kolkata: Production of bread in over 4,000 bakeries of West Bengal has been hit by 30 percent in wake of a CSE study which reportedly found certain harmful chemicals in bread, buns, pavs, pizza bases and other commercially-sold bakery items, bakery associations said on Thursday, while claiming they do not use the harmful chemicals.

The West Bengal Bakery Co-ordinators Committee and West Bengal Baker’s Association said they will carry out sampling and testing of breads from the bakeries.

“Our daily production ranges from 10 to 12 lakh pounds, but after the reports of bread allegedly causing cancer started doing the rounds on media, our production was affected by 25 to 30 percent in the last couple of days,” Sheikh Ismail Hossain, secretary of the committee, told the media here.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study, released on Monday, focussed on two chemicals – potassium bromate and potassium iodate – which are banned in many countries but are widely used by Indian bread manufacturing companies to make bread soft and fluffy.

Hossain and his associates claimed the chemicals were not used in the bakeries in the state.

“They are not used at all. We use lipase and alpha amylase here,” he said.

The committee said it has approached the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata to conduct analysis from bread samples.

Trinamool Congress MP Idris Ali, who is a bakery baron, urged people to not shun bread.

“It seems a part of some conspiracy. Bread is safe,” Ali, secretary, Joint Action Committee of West Bengal Baker’s Association, told the media here while breaking off a piece of bread and eating it to buttress his claims.

Nahoum and Sons, the 113-year-old Jewish bakery here, however said its sales have not been affected at all.

“You see the shop is crowded as usual. People trust us. These reports come and go,” Jessica Baptist, manager at the store told IANS.