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 No need to hold something against a company because of outdated information.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:
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.