Active! gets you the dope on Potassium Bromate, a carcinogenic additive listed as E924 on food labels and banned by the FDA, which is still being used by bakers in India. Should you be worried, we find out
Bread. It goes with just about anything. Cheese, chocolate, potassium bromate? Turns out that blindly trusting all the ingredients in your bread might not be wise.
So what is potassium bromate, which masquerades as E924 on food labels? In scientific terms, Potassium Bromate (KBrO 3) is a white, crystalline, water-soluble powder whose use is that of an oxidizing agent and an analytical reagent.
Burden of bakers?
Its baking definition however is of a deeper concern to us. It is a commonly used flour improver/oxidizing agent that makes bread rise higher and prolongs shelf life of the bread. Typically, the ingredient is completely used up during the process of baking, but a residual amount may remain if not baked long enough or too much is added, making it potentially harmful.
Ever since it was found to be a carcinogenic food additive, it has been banned in most countries, except for Japan and USA. A cancer warning must be issued on the label if it is used by an American product. Since many flour improvers do not use bromate at all there is no loss of quality here. Moshe, of Cafe Moshe's who claim that they are the only people offering bromate-free bread, says, "The first thing most parents do is wake up and make a sandwich for their kids. So this needs to be taken seriously."
How much is too much?
The only way bromate can impact a person's health is if he or she is consuming it in very large quantities. Eight or ten slices of bread per day is generally considered over-consumption for the average person.
However, nutritionist Madhuri Ruia thinks any brouhaha over bromate is a case of much ado about nothing.
"Rather than trying to micro-manage so many uncontrollable aspects of our lives it is much better to focus on our overall immunity. Consumption of too much glutinous bread on its own is far more damaging to our bodies than a single minute ingredient like this, which so far has only caused cancer in rats.
The problem is standard in all processed foods. Not to mention our bodies are fighting other toxic carcinogens every second of the day. Focus your energies on the bigger picture and battling these smaller nuances will definitely happen naturally."