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Is your bread toxic ?

Did you know that in the US 326.91 million Americans consumed bread in 2020 ?  Not a small amount however, there may be some health considerations when you choose which bread dough based product to purchase.

Our focus will be on one of the additives,  potassium bromate. Unlike our laws in the US,  those in the UK, Canada, Brazil, Nigeria, South Korea, Peru, China and the European Union have already banned this ingredient and it’s time that the U.S. follows suit. Keep in mind that this is one of many that are still on our shelves even though they cause disease.

Let’s start with the understanding that potassium bromate is a chemical additive typically used to make bread rise more efficiently and whiten the dough. The catch is that this chemical is a possible human carcinogen.

You’re probably asking yourself why haven’t we in the US banned this additive. Let’s follow the laws: The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers it a possible human carcinogen, and together with  the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the F.D.A. to ban it nearly 20 years ago.

Now for the catch, an amendment in 1958 to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from approving food additives that are linked to cancer, however, many substances that were in use before the passage of the amendment, known as the Delaney amendment, are considered to have had prior approval and therefore are not regulated as food additives.   And the F.D.A. says potassium bromate has been in use since before the Delaney amendment on carcinogenic food additives was passed. You’ll hear the term GRAS, generally recognized as safe group of additives list.  Quite an oxymoron but the current law to the time of this post.

Has there been any progress since the 1973 planned literature review by the FDA, not really ! Last year congress considered legislation called the Food Chemical Reassessment Act of 2021.  If it gets enacted, the bill would create a new Office of Food Safety Assessment within the FDA. The concept is to go through the legal loopholes, that were reviewed by the FDA many decades ago, and determine if these additives are still safe to eat. This bill clearly identifies 10 chemicals of concern for immediate reassessment. The good news is that potassium bromate is on the list. The bad news is that no action has taken place on the bill.

When you look at where potassium bromate is used it includes: bread, rolls, cookies, buns, pastry and pizza dough along with packaged flour. When the (EWG) Environmental Working Group group took a look they found this chemical in 130 products.

Want to weigh in and tell the FDA how you feel ? A citizens petition can be found at the: Care2 site

Take Aways:

Check the ingredients of your bread or dough product  (less ingredients the better)

No Potassium Bromate should be acceptable in any product so stay alert and read labels

Does your pizza joint or bakery use premade dough and add additives ?

Check your flour and make certain it’s actually only flour without additives