Everyone loves a nice fluffy piece of bread. Unfortunately some of what makes that bread so light and airy is actually really bad for us. No, this time we’re not talking gluten. Instead, this week we’re zeroing in potassium bromate, an additive that is so bad that it is illegal in countries such as China, Europe and the UK because it causes cancer in rats and mice. Why not in the U.S.? Learn about potassium bromate and why we don’t want to eat it. Come and cook with us!
The Environmental Working Group has started a campaign to ban potassium bromate. The additive is usually blended into the flour to help create structures that allow for more air to be trapped making the bread lighter and fluffier. What this means is that it provides the bridges necessary for the gluten molecules to bind to each other. This happens through oxidation which in the past was achieved by “aging” flour to build up bridges naturally by using the available oxygen in the air. With increased demand, the production process was industrialized with shorter rising periods and faster baking times which meant the natural oxidization had to be replaced by a more reliable and powerful agent than what can be found in air.
Potassium bromate was banned by many countries around the world after research appeared in 1972 showing a link between the additive and cancer in the thyroids, kidneys and other parts in rats and mice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hesitated primarily because it deemed the potassium bromate remaining in bread after baking was negligible. Nevertheless, many bakeries have proactively decided not to use this additive but the EWG found that potassium bromate is listed as an ingredient in 86 baked goods and other food products. Seriously?
So if you want to avoid eating this cancerous ingredient, carefully read labels and let the FDA know that you are against the use of it in our food by signing EWG’s petition. And if you live in California, avoiding potassium bromate is a little easier as the label has to warn residents of the dangers associated with potassium bromate.
My takeaway? Eat real food, including bread! Come and cook with us!