This unnerving news comes from the Environmental Working Group, which recently identified 86 breads, baked goods and starchy supermarket products that are laced with potassium bromate. The chemical, which is sometimes referred to as brominated flour, speeds up the manufacturing process and helps whiten and add bulk to bread and grain-based products. But it comes at a serious cost to the consumer.
The additive has been linked gastrointestinal discomfort and nervous system disorders, and it’s also been identified as a potential human carcinogen by a number of health organizations. For this reason, the European Union, U.K., Canada, and Brazil don’t allow potassium bromate to be used in their manufactured foods. In the States, the FDA has urged manufacturers to stop using it, but they have yet to make this mandatory.
Products identified as containing brominated flour include Weis Kaiser rolls, various flavors of New York Flatbreads, Hormel Foods breakfast sandwiches and Goya turnover pastry dough. Though some brands on the list say their products no longer contain the chemical, a fair share of them do. (To see if any of your go-tos are of concern, check out the full list of contaminated products here.)
Thankfully, there’s no need to memorize the entire list—staying away from the chemical isn’t too tricky. Manufacturers are required to list it as an ingredient. As long as you read nutrition labels, you can stay in the clear. And if you live in California, identifying these products is especially simple: The state requires that products containing potassium bromate carry a warning label. (Speaking of which, be sure to also avoid these 10 Meals That Should Have Warning Labels!)
And when it doubt, just pick up one of these Best Brand Name Breads for Weight Loss. They’re all free of the additive.