CSE Note: Indian standards on potassium bromate and/or potassium iodate in bread | Centre for Science and Environment

CSE Note: Indian standards on potassium bromate and/or potassium iodate in bread

This is with reference to our study on residues of potassium bromate/iodate in bread released on May 23, 2016.

While the documents issued provide a clear understanding on current Indian standards, but we are still getting queries around it, specifically from those who are reporting on this issue. We realise that it is important to address these questions to prevent any confusion/mis-communication on current Indian standards. Please see below our easy to understand notes: 

• There is a difference between ‘maximum level of use’ and ‘maximum residue limit’. While the first is an input limit in the raw material, the later is a limit of residue in the end product. For potassium bromate and potassium iodate in bread the Indian standards are mentioned for ‘maximum level of use’. There are no residue limits set for end products. There should NOT be any residue in the end product. 

• The maximum use level is set for both chemicals together at 50 ppm. It means that either or both of these chemicals could be used up to 50 ppm in the flour used to make bread. The standards for these are mentioned at two places in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011:  Both of these mean the same. 

  • Appendix A: List of Food Additives

Table 1: List of food additives for use in bread and biscuits

Name of additive


Potassium Bromate and/or Potassium Iodate

50 ppm max (on flour mass basis)


Table under 3.1.17: Other substances to be used in Specified limits



Maximum level of use (ppm) mg/kg

Potassium Bromate and/or Potassium Iodate




• The pollution monitoring laboratory at CSE has tested for both chemicals together in line with the way the standards of use are mentioned i.e. potassium bromate and/or potassium iodate. The results are also reported accordingly. CSE had subsequently re-confirmed the results with an external third-party laboratory which tested for bromate residues. The results confirmed presence of bromate residues and therefore use of potassium bromate.  Absence of bromate in one sample also confirmed residues and use of potassium iodate. 

• Internationally, the assumption to allow use of potassium bromate was that there would be no residue of it in the end product as under ideal baking conditions all bromate should convert into harmless bromide. However, this was not happening in practice. When residues were being detected even after reducing the use limits, the chemical was recommended not to be used. Countries subsequently banned it. Following the same logic, the solution is to completely ban these chemicals. It is difficult to monitor use levels on-site



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