You may or may not have heard of bromated flour. Flour that is bromated is flour that contains potassium bromate, which is commonly used in commercial bakeries to strengthen the dough and promote its rising.1 Bromate, when applied within the prescribed limits (15-30ppm), is completely used up during the baking process, leaving no trace in the finished product. However, if too much is used, or the bread is not baked long enough or at a high enough temperature, then a residual amount will remain. 2
The problem with bromated flour is that back in 1982, a link between bromated flour and cancer was found in lab animals. A murine study done in 2016 (that means the researchers used mice), demonstrated that mice that were given potassium bromate had “serious damaging effects on the nervous system.” 3 I know mice are not the same as people, however I don’t think that is something I want to take a chance on.
One would think that this substance would be banned, however the FDA has asked manufacturers to voluntarily stop using it. Most have, but some have not. In 1986 California banned the use of bromated flour, a move that prompted most manufacturers to stop adding potassium bromate to the flour. If the companies did not stop using it, they would be required to put a label on the product, indicating it was a potential carcinogen (which we can safely assume would not increase sales). Pillsbury, Pepperidge Farms, Gold Medal and King Arthur are all some of the brands that stopped using potassium bromate, but it is important to read labels to verify this (look for unbromated flour). 4 The only (slight) disadvantage of using bromated flour is you may have to bake and mix your item a little longer.
Ajarem J, Altoom NG, Allam AA, Maodaa SN, Abdel- Maksoud MA, Chow BK. Oral administration of potassium bromate induces neurobehavioral changes, alters cerebral neurotransmitters level and impairs brain tissue of swiss mice. Behavioral and Brain Functions : BBF. 2016;12:14. doi:10.1186/s12993-016-0098-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4865012/