Bromate in Flour

It is astounding how much I do not know and even worse, how much I don’t know that I don’t know!  There are many, many ingredients in our food that some say are controversial and some say are safe.  For so many of these items, the best we can do is research and make the best decision for our own family.

Several years ago, I became aware that some flours contain bromate and some do not.  It is called a “maturing agent”.  One of the reasons potassium bromate is added is to increase gluten strength.  Some commercial bakers use bromated flour because it consistently produces a strong and springy loaf of bread. I make at least 3 loaves of bread each week and for the past few years, I’ve use only unbromated flour and most who’ve had my bread will say it’s a pretty darned good loaf of bread.

Some foreign countries have banned bromate addition to flour.  California requires very strict labeling if bromated flour (or bromate) has been used in baked goods.   To varying degrees, other states have requirements regarding labeling.

Whole Foods has listed Potassium Bromate as an unacceptable ingredient in food products. A Google search will bring up articles from the late 90’s indicating many fast food restaurants were serving buns in which bromated flour was used.  A review of the ingredients listed by McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Arby’s (though I’m not encouraging eating at these places) lists no potassium bromate in their foods. I did not do an exhaustive search of restaurants so just because others are not listed does not mean they use bromated flour.  Ascorbic acid has been listed as an acceptable substitute for bakers and I did see that listed on some of the ingredients pages.  As you’re doing research, check the dates of the articles.  Bromate seems to be used less and less so while an article written in the 90’s may state that a restaurant or name brand product uses bromate, it may have been true in the 90’s but it may no longer be true.  No need to hold something against a company because of outdated information.

While shopping at a Mennonite grocery recently I picked up (actually my husband picked it up for me) a 50 pound bag of Gold Medal All Trumps flour.   I noticed it contains bromate . . back onto the shelf it went. A trip to the local grocery store was in order for more research.  Our local store does not carry 25 or 50 pound bags of flour.  None of the flour on my store’s shelves listed bromate as an ingredient, though only one plainly stated that it was “unbromated”.  It seems bromate is not being used a whole lot but it is listed as an ingredient on many of the breads in our grocery deli, as well as on hamburger/hotdog buns, including a package in my own kitchen.

A review of everything in my kitchen and many of the items in the grocery store, including baking mixes such as Bisquick, cake mix, brownie mix, muffin mixes, etc. revealed no bromate.  It seems to be a matter of commercial bakers mostly  using bromated flour.

For our family, the only flours we use are either 100% whole wheat flour that I’ve ground myself, using 100% organic wheat berries or unbromated flour, my favorite being Wheat Montana.

Here are a few links you can read if you would like to know more:

King Arthur Flour

MSN’s Foods to Avoid

One thing I learned from carefully reading the labels is . . it scares the heck out of me.  After scrutinizing those labels, there will be a whole lot more cooking and baking from scratch around here.  Read those  ingredient labels . . if you dare!  I wonder how many things we’re eating that are truly harming us.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Judy, you are so right! It is also pretty scary if you look at the products we use on our faces and bodies and which sink into our skin. Most creams seem to include formaldehyde and things that are even worse. I have switched to very natural skincare with pretty much no additives or perfumes – which also turns out to be cheaper and my skin is happier.

  2. 2

    says

    Judy, you are so right! It is also pretty scary if you look at the products we use on our faces and bodies and which sink into our skin. Most creams seem to include formaldehyde and things that are even worse. I have switched to very natural skincare with pretty much no additives or perfumes – which also turns out to be cheaper and my skin is happier.

  3. 3

    says

    Judy, you are so right! It is also pretty scary if you look at the products we use on our faces and bodies and which sink into our skin. Most creams seem to include formaldehyde and things that are even worse. I have switched to very natural skincare with pretty much no additives or perfumes – which also turns out to be cheaper and my skin is happier.

  4. 4

    says

    Judy, you are so right! It is also pretty scary if you look at the products we use on our faces and bodies and which sink into our skin. Most creams seem to include formaldehyde and things that are even worse. I have switched to very natural skincare with pretty much no additives or perfumes – which also turns out to be cheaper and my skin is happier.

  5. 5

    says

    I’m glad to see King Arthur flour is bromate free, as it’s what I use when I don’t grind my own.

  6. 6

    Betsy says

    My mother has often said that my generation are the “guinea pigs” of food additives. We’ve started seeing the effects of additives even tho no one wants to admit that this is from where many of our health problems stem. It’s difficult to change lifestyles, especially when my generation has not been taught how to cook from scratch. Everything came in a box. I think I need to set up a timeline for myself and make gradual changes- too much at once is overwhelming.

  7. 7

    Sally H says

    No boxes here! We were headed off that band wagon and then my husband started having blood pressure problems. Do you know how much salt is in prepared/packaged food?! I don’t buy “vegetable oil” anymore either. It is made mostly from corn and/or soybeans, the two crops most likely to be GMO (about 95% of all soybeans grown in the US are GMO.) Our new standard is sunflower or olive oil. (Which youngest daughter had trouble understanding: “Yes, dear, sunflowers can be vegetables.”) Just this weekend I read “no bromide” on a bread label at the farmer’s market, but had no idea why that was important. Thank you for the information.

  8. 9

    Sandy says

    It is a sad day when we have to look up all the ingredients to see if they have harmful effects on us. Wouldn’t you think our goverment would be trying to keep the people safe? I feel too that our government has taken a bad turn for the worse. We want our country back!! Thank you Judy for pointing out potential problems with this ingredient. I am going to start reading labels closer.

  9. 10

    says

    I have enjoyed baking my own bread. It is necessary these days to keep as much control as possible on the foods we eat. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I have not gone beyond trusting my King Arthur Flour and it is good to know that was one step in the right direction.

  10. 11

    says

    I recently made a “rule” in our house – no purchased bake goods. I was doing it because of cost and if I have to make it then it won’t be as accessible. Now I am going to check my flour. Thanks for the heads up.

  11. 12

    Frankie says

    Thanks for sharing this — I really had no idea! We’ve been trying to eat healthier this year and do more cooking from scratch. Now I’ll make sure I check my flour before I buy it.

  12. 13

    says

    Yep, I read labels. (The biggest bugaboos for me are corn products in any way, shape, or form, but I also don’t like unnecessary chemical substances.) While it was the corn starch along with the encouragement of your blog and the “cooler” recipe in Joy of Cooking that led me back into yogurt making, I do read every label. I think if more people read labels more people would be doing their own cooking. If we don’t have time to cook at my house, we enjoy fresh fruit and yogurt and fresh vegetables. Can’t believe the difference we’ve experienced! You go, Judy!
    I appreciate Sally H’s no GMO products too. Very scary, even for me, a corn-oats-alfalfa farmer’s daughter!

  13. 14

    carol c says

    cnn had an article last week, that they are crossing future pigs with mice DNA to make a new kind of food for us all to eat-no thank you