I learn something new every day. Today I learned about bromated flour. I wasn’t looking to learn about bromated flour, but my curiosity got the better of me.
Lately I have been buying flour that I really like. I buy it in 50 pound bags and pound-per-pound it is cheaper than the 25 pound bags of the flour that I usually buy. What a deal! I also like how well it works with my bread recipe. My bread suddenly seemed lighter and yet stronger. I was in love with this flour – that is until I got curious.
On the front of the bag it stated that the flour had been enriched, fortified and bromated. I had seen the enriched and fortified before, but bromated? This is where my curiosity got the better of me and so while I was waiting for my bread to raise I Googled© “bromate”. Maybe the ‘bromate’ was the reason that my bread was turning out so well.
Come to find out it was, but all of the wonderful results came with a bit of a price – and the price wasn’t monetary. I discovered that flour that is enriched with potassium bromate is a potential carcinogen. Carcinogen? Really? Flour that potentially causes cancer? Well, yes – sort of.
Some commercial bakers like using the bromated flour because it yields a stronger and more elastic dough which makes a consistently wonderfully springy bread (hence the wonderful results that I kept having). Theoretically the potential hazard is supposed to dissipate when it is cooked, but a potentially harmful residue could still be left behind. There are several countries in the world that have banned bromate, but the United States isn’t one of them.
Many commercial bakers have switched from using bromated flour to using ascorbic acid which produces much of the same results (see the Easiest Whole Wheat Bread recipe that uses lemon juice), but without the potentially CARCINOGENIC side effects. If you decide to keep using the bromated flour just keep in mind that if the dough is not completely cooked or if it is eaten raw (e.g. eating raw cookie dough or raw bread dough) it can potentially cause cancer. (I don’t know which type of cancer, but does it really matter?)
If you do have bromated flour you don’t have to throw it away because if the dough is completely cooked then there is no harm and all of the bromate will have dissipated. Theoretically.
Why do “they” do this to us? The Center for Science in the Public Interest has lobbied the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the use of potassium bromate, but so far it hasn’t happened. Some states require flour to be clearly labeled if it is bromated, but outside of the FDA or public interest groups that understand the science and dangers behind these additives, who else knows what bromated means? Okay, maybe you did, but I certainly didn’t and if I hadn’t been curious then I still would be naively eating raw cookie dough and serving my family POTENTIALLY CARCINOGENIC BREAD!
My favorite verse in the Word of Wisdom, in Doctrine and Covenants 89, is in verse 4 which says, “Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days,…” – and would those men be conspiring for higher profits? I feel that feeding the public bromated flour just because the end result looks prettier and is springier – even though it could cause CANCER, is irresponsible and is done by design to make a profit at our expense. Shame on them.
I wonder how many other things I need to be curious about?