Shares of Britannia, Jubilant FoodWorks and WestLife Development fell between three and 12 percent on Tuesday even as bread makers rushed to defend their products after a damning report claimed that samples in Delhi contained cancer-causing chemicals, prompting the Union Health Ministry to order a probe.
According to MoneyControl, Britannia has denied using potassium bromate or iodate in its bread and claimed "all bread products are in compliance with food safety norms," but the shares of the company was down Rs 52.95 at 10:32 AM.
Economic Times reported that Britannia shares had dropped 8.6% in its biggest single day fall yesterday.
"FSSAI's regulations permit the use of potassium bromate and/or potassium iodate at 50 ppm max for bread and at 20 ppm max in maida for bakery purpose under food products standards," the All India Bread Manufactureres' Association president Ramesh Mago said.
Nearly 84 percent of 38 commonly available brands of pre- packaged breads including pav and buns, tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate, banned in many countries as they are listed as "hazardous" for public health, the report by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said yesterday.
It 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 ban their use.
CSEs Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML) 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 samples positive with potassium bromate or iodate. We re-confirmed the presence of potassium bromate or 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 or iodate as well as presence of bromate or iodate residues in the final product," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
"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," Health Minister J P Nadda said.
The study found that 84 per cent (32/38) samples were found with potassium bromate or iodate in the range of 1.15-22.54 parts per million (ppm). Around 79 per cent (19/24) samples of packaged bread, all samples of white bread, pav, bun and ready-to-eat pizza bread and 75 per cent (3/4) samples of ready-to-eat burger bread were positive.
The breadmakers have sent out statements to the media to stem the damage and prevent panic.
“We do not use potassium bromate or potassium iodate in flour. The claims made by CSE are completely baseless," The Hindu quoted Vikram Ogale, director, National Supply Chain and Quality Assurance, McDonald’s India, as saying.
(With PTI inputs)