Few food items conjure goodness and comfort like baked goods. But, like most popular foods, manufacturers have bastardized any nutritional value by augmenting bakery products with synthetic ingredients that serve no other purpose than to enhance a corporation’s bottom line. And new research found that the addition of one artificial ingredient known as potassium bromate, is of particular concern.

A new study published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 86 popular breads, pizzas, pastries and cookies contain potassium bromate. While the chemical sounds like a beneficial mineral (potassium), it’s not. It’s a synthetic chemical that is added to flour to strengthen the dough, encourage it to rise higher than it normally would and give the freshly-baked bread an appealing color. The state of California lists potassium bromate on its Proposition 65 list of established carcinogens. The chemical is banned in many countries around the world, including: the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and the countries that make up the European Union. But, in the United States, California is the only state to take any measures to warn people of the serious health dangers of this chemical.

These countries classify potassium bromate as a recognized carcinogen and link the ingredient to kidney tumors, mesotheliomas (testicular and other cancers) and thyroid gland tumors. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland situated at the front of your neck and is responsible for regulating your body’s thermostat, metabolism and other essential functions.

masada_home_breadBut the synthetic ingredient goes beyond cancer to damage the body’s own genetic material (known as “genotoxic”), which is a factor in cancer and many other serious illnesses depending on the specific genes that become damaged. It has been shown in research in the journal Chemico-Biological Interactions to cause breakage in DNA strands resulting in genetic damage.

A study published in the journal Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis found that potassium bromate also causes significant damage to microscopic components of cells that are responsible for breaking food down into useful components to ensure our cells are replenished and strong. Potassium bromate damages this essential process required for health.

While it seems to be nigh impossible to check whether potassium bromate is used in baking in South Africa, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Nigeria has previously banned the use of potassium Bromate for being “a bread additive which decomposes vitamin in bread and causes renal failure and hearing losses in humans and because further studies have also revealed that potassium bromate is also carcinogenic.”

I did manage to find some reports on studies done on South African bread though, and as a bread-lover myself the news is NOT good:


The African Centre for Biosafety – May 20, 2014

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today brought into sharp focus the white bread industry in South Africa with the release of its new report “GM Contamination, Cartels and Collusion in South Africa’s Bread Industry.’ The report shows that the white bread tested contains high levels of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soya in the soya flour used in the bread and that most companies are unashamedly flouting GM labelling laws and undermining the consumer’s right to know. The nation consumes about 2.8 billion loaves of bread a year, handing over more than R28 billion of their hard-earned cash to a cartel comprising Tiger Brands, Premier Foods, Pioneer Foods and Foodcorp, that controls the wheat-to-bread value chain. Roughly a quarter of South Africans live below the bread line and price fluctuations in bread – our second most important staple food after maize – has hit the poor the hardest. Read More Here

South African Chamber of Baking – 

According to the South African Chamber of Baking, “Bread is the second most important supplier of energy (kilojoules) in the national diet after maize products. It provides approximately half of the kilojoules provided by maize products. It however supplies more than twice as many kilojoules as any other energy source (i.e. potatoes, rice, etc).

Food nutritionists generally agree that bread, as a starchy food, is an essential part of the foundation of a healthy diet. It is a good source of energy (kilojoules), protein and fibre. Furthermore, South African white and brown bread now supply eight essential micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as fortified flour is used in their production.

Research carried out before the programme was launched showed that micornutrient malnutrition is a serious problem in South Africa.

bodyAboutIn 1995, the country’s first national survey of children’s micro nutrient status found significant vitamin A deficiencies. Professor Demetre Labadarios, who headed up the study, said: “We were shocked to find that one out of three children has an inadequate vitamin A status.”

In 1999, a National Food Consumption Survey of children between one and nine years old found that one in five children was stunted as a result of chronic under nutrition. More than 25% of mothers surveyed in this study said that their children went to bed hungry more than five times a month.

The survey confirmed what the vitamin A study had found – that half of all South African children had inadequate amounts of vitamin A and other important micronutrients in their diet, far lower than the minimum levels of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The result of these surveys were a strong motivation for Government to go ahead with plans for a national food fortification programme.

The following miconutrients were chosen:

Vitamin A Essential for eyesight, growth and to fight illness Carrots, yellow and dark green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, apricots, melon, liver, egg yolk, fish, whole milk, butter, cheese and fortified bread and maize meal Night blindness, partial or total blindness, skin sores, loss of appetite, higher risk of illnesses including measles and diarrhea
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Healthy blood and helps digestion Bread, cereals, pork and fortified bread and maize meal Extreme, tiredness, irritability, constipation, loss of appetite
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Healthy blood, fighting illness and growth Nuts, dairy products, fish, legumes (beans, lentils), whole grains, green leafy vegetables and fortified bread and maize meal Eye problems, skin sores, inflammation of the mouth and tongue, hair loss and slow growth
Niacin Essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fatty acids and amino acids and for respiration within cells Meats, poultry, fish, peanuts, brewer’s yeast and fortified bread and maize meal Muscular weakness, indigestion, skin sores and diarrhea
Folic acid Needed for the formation of DNA and RNA, the bodys building blocks and plays an important role in forming and developing white and red blood cells Dark green leafy vegetables, liver, kidney, whole grain cereals, nuts, legumes and fortified bread and maize meal. Anaemia, babies born with spinal problems>
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) Healthy blood, helps the body to use proteins as building blocks and to maintain a healthy nervous system Fortified cereal, dried beans, peanut butter, meat, chicken, liver, potatoes, liver, mild and fortified bread and maize meal Depression, nausea, skin problems, irritability, heart disease, problems with concentration
Iron Helps fighting illness and help brain development and function, and help in carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues> Fortified cereal, dried beans, meat, chicken, liver, kidney, egg yolks, seafood and fortified bread and maize meal Anaemia, tiredness, reduced concentration, irritability
Zinc Maintains a healthy immune system, reduces the risk of skin problems (acne, boils) Meat, fish, poultry, milk products, whole grain cereals, dried beans and fortified bread and maize meal Slow growth, delayed wound healing, loss of taste and appetite, hair loss, immune deficiencies

I will do some further snooping and try to ascertain whether SA bread does contain potassium bromate or not….


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