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Bread makers not to use potassium bromate, iodate; CSE welcomes decision

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New Delhi, May 26 : Leading bread makers on Thursday said that they will give up the use of potassium bromate and potassium iodate in wake of a Centre for Science and Environment study flagging their harmful effects on health, including causing cancer. The CSE welcomed the decision.

The bread makers’ decision not to use these chemical additives came days after Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned use of potassium bromate. Meanwhile in West Bengal, production of bread in over 4,000 bakeries has been hit by about 30 percent in wake of the study, said industry associations.

At press conference here, All India Bread Manufacturers’ Association said they will not use the two chemicals.

Aadil Hassan, managing director of Harvest Gold Industries, who addressed the media, said they had been earlier using the additives as they had been allowed by the government.

“We will not use potassium bromate and iodate if people don’t like it. We were using them as their use was allowed by our government and scientists. We have other enzymes and emulsifiers as their alternate,” he said.

Identifying potassium bromate was an oxidizing agent used in the process of making bread and admitting its overuse was harmful, he said that “if used with sophistication, it only adds to the (softness) of the product”.

“Potassium iodate never had any use for us. We were using it since government had mandated its use for breads,” he said, adding that the AIBMA has decided to give up use of both additives because “there is a confusion among the consumers regarding its use.”

The CSE report, released on May 23, said that most of the breads made by the Indian companies are found to contain potassium bromate and potassium iodate – food additives banned in many countries for their adverse effects on human health.

The CSE welcomed the AIBMA decision.

“We have heard what the bread-making association has announced. We are happy that they have decided to stop using potassium bromate and potassium iodate within two-three days. This will reduce public health risk from these chemicals,” said CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan in a statement.

He said CSE researchers had pointed out that potassium bromate can possibly cause cancer and use of potassium iodate can lead to excess intake of iodine, which could affect thyroid functions.

Bhushan said CSE had welcomed FSSAI’s move to ban potassium bromate. “We urge FSSAI to also ban use of potassium iodate in bread-making,” he said.

However, speaking at an event in Delhi, AIIMS director M.C. Mishra said that use of these chemicals might pose some danger but no individual eats entire loaf of bread everyday.

“Majority of people eat a piece or two at the most, so in the long-term, there is no need to panic much as has also been said by the FSSAI,” he said.

In Kolkata, 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.

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,” said Ali, who is also secretary, Joint Action Committee of West Bengal Baker’s Association.

Meanwhile, Nahoum and Sons, the celebrated 113-year-old Jewish bakery in Kolkata, said its sales have not been affected at all.

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Congress alleges govt procuring Covid vaccine at inflated prices

The Congress leader said the price of such a vaccine must be cheaper than AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India’s Covishield.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New Delhi, Jan 17 : The Congress on Sunday questioned the procurement of Covid vaccines, alleging that the government has procured the vaccines at inflated prices despite the manufacturers claiming they would supply the vaccines without seeking profit.

Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, addressing a press conference, said, “Why should the Modi government pay Rs 95 per dose more to Bharat Biotech for a vaccine that has been developed with the expertise and experience of scientists of government-run ICMR and pay more for a vaccine that has only been tested on 755 individuals and is yet to be cleared after phase-3 trials?”

The Congress leader said the price of such a vaccine must be cheaper than AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India’s Covishield.

“Why is the price of the vaccine at Rs 1,000 per dose in the open market?” he asked.

Surjewala said, “‘Covishield’ is an AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India. Serum Institute is supplying this vaccine at Rs 200/dose to government. AstraZeneca has committed to supplying the vaccine at no profit while ‘Covaxin’, manufactured by Bharat Biotech, is being supplied at Rs 295/dose. Admittedly, Covaxin has been developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).”

SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had said stated that his company will sell Covishield for Rs 1,000 per dose in open market, that is Rs 2,000 for 2 doses required for every individual.

Surjewala said, “Why should export of vaccine be permitted without immunisation of India’s population? ‘Corona Vaccine For All’ should be the stated policy of Modi government.”

“However, the government’s approach on free vaccination or cost of vaccination, cost to exchequer, profit margins of companies, etc, for India’s 130 crore people is completely opaque and shrouded in secrecy,” he said.

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13 Israelis suffer facial paralysis post inoculation

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

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Jerusalem, Jan 17 : At least 13 Israelis suffered mild facial paralysis as a side effect after receiving the first Covid vaccine jabs, the Health Ministry said, adding that the count could be higher.

The officials have raised questions on whether or not to administer the second dose to these individuals the Health Ministry had recommended for the second dose, reported the Jerusalem Post.

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

“I can’t say it was completely gone afterwards, but other than that I had no other pains, except a minor pain where the injection was, but there was nothing beyond that.”

As for receiving the second dose, he admits he is undecided, but says that “it is important to note that this is something rare, and I don’t want people to avoid getting vaccinated – it’s important”.

“I recently came across, for example, someone vaccinated who was dealing with paralysis, and decided not to give her a second dose,” Galia Rahav, Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Centre told Ynet.

“It is true that it can be given according to the Health Ministry, but I did not feel comfortable with it.”

She added that, “No one knows if this is connected to the vaccine or not. That’s why I would refrain from giving a second dose to someone who suffered from paralysis after the first dose.”

However, the Health Ministry has assured of the second dose only when the paralysis passes, Ynet reported.

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Delhi reports 51 cases of minor adverse events post vaccination

As many as 1,91,181 people were vaccinated on day one of India’s first phase of the coronavirus vaccination drive.

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Hours after the Health Ministry announced on January 16 that India has reported no case of post-vaccination hospitalisation yet, 51 persons complained of minor adverse events in Delhi. Another person developed severe adverse event following immunization and had to be referred to the AEFI centre.

Out of a total of 4,319 healthcare and frontline workers who were vaccinated on Jnauary 16 in the National Capital, two healthcare workers at NDMC’s Charak Palika Hospital reported mild adverse event post-vaccination including mild tightness in the chest. They were kept under observation by AEFI team and discharged 30 minutes later after they felt at ease. The two other cases were reported from Northern Railway Central Hospital, of which one was referred to the AEFI centre, the Delhi government has informed.

As many as 1,91,181 people were vaccinated on day one of India’s first phase of the coronavirus vaccination drive.

Beneficiaries from 11 states and union territories across India received Covishield or Covaxin shots on the first day of the vaccination drive, namely, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.

Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here

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