In a response to the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) report which has caused a panic among the consumers resulting in plummeting the sale of bread and bakery products, the industry body ASSOCHAM has said that the potassium bromate, purported to be harmful to health, was being used with the permission and full knowledge of the food regulator.
“The industry will surely be at fault if it was using the PM in violation of the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) rules. If at all, there is a problem, it does not lie at the door of the industry, which only would be put to immense loss of consumer confidence and crores of rupees worth of loss. Already, reports suggest a sharp fall in the sale of morning breads and a sense of panic among the homemakers,” ASSOCHAM Secretary General DS Rawat said.
Rawat said that the ASSOCHAM was all for adoption of internationally accepted food standards. If at all, the problem is detected, the first contact point for the NGOs and independent organisations should be the government agencies, regulators both at the Centre and State levels.
“But an impression has been created as if the entire lot of bread manufacturers are deliberately causing risk to the public health. A similar thing had happened in the case of Maggi noodles which finally returned to the market after an effective court intervention, but not without several hundreds of crores of rupees of loss to the manufacturers,” Rawat said.
The ASSOCHAM said if India has to scale up its food processing industry , it cannot be left to scare-mongering by NGOs. “The NGOs are free to be watchdogs, but they must realise that their reports and findings should not be targeted only at the industry. While the government is trying to move towards of ease of doing business by relaxing the inspector raj, the NGO policing may harm many times”.
Rawat said, the Health Ministry and the FSSAI should immediately come out with a clarification on the bread controversy. If need be, the manufacturers should also engage with the regulators and consumers giving them confidence. “Or else, immense loss of goodwill and financial loss would be caused. As it is, the stock prices of the food companies have come under pressure out of panic”.