FSSAI Defending Bromal Proposal in Packaged Water
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) proposed a new standard for the potential cancer-causing contaminant “bromate” at 10 micrograms per liter in packaged drinking water, considering it to be best international practices.FSSAI said, “This is a draft standard and would be finalized after getting inputs from the stakeholders. The process for setting the standards for food articles is a continuously evolving process.” Bromate is not allowed in packed water in India currently. The proposal was put in public domain for 30 days for feedback. A final order was passed by the food regulator after the receiving comments were over.
In January 2015, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre scientists picked up samples and published research showing high levels of bromate in 27 percent of the bottled water samples they had picked.
The new standards of water developed by FSSAI License authority recognized that this contaminant may be found in water in some cases and prescribed a limit for bromate in water. While India’s ground realities have to be kept in mind, FSSAI had committed to continually improve and align the national food standards with global standards.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that the toxic contaminant should ideally not be present at all in drinking water. But, based on the limited capability in 2005 of detecting the contaminant in labs prescribed then, countries such as the US and the European Union (EU) set the bromate standard at 10 micrograms per liter — the level at which it could be then detected in lab samples. In 2014, the US approved testing methods that can now confirm the presence of bromates even at the limit of 0.02 microgram per liter and alternatives to using ozone for disinfecting water. The standards of these countries have not been revised since. The FSSAI in its statement referred to the standards of EU and the US at 1micrograms per liter and Australia at 20 micrograms per liter while stating it had proposed comparable standards for bromate in packaged water.
Bromate contamination can occur during the use of ozone and hypochlorite solutions to disinfect water that is to be packaged. In various countries of the world, alternative methods are used which do not require ozone that leads to bromate formation in some bottles. Ozonation, a cheaper disinfectant method, had been traditionally used for large-scale disinfestations in municipal water supply across EU and the US.
FSSAI updated the list of additives, the draft for which was put in public domain. After this exercise of setting the standards for nearly 11,000 additives was complete, all such issues that arose out of anomalies in vertical standards, such as that of packaged water, were automatically taken care of. Because the master list of additives finalized overruled all existing vertical standards of additives and contaminants.”
FSSAI pointed out that bromate was an additive for bread but a contaminant in bottled water. The list of additives with their maximum use levels was finalized by FSSAI, which does not deal with the contaminants.