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European Ban on Potassium Bromate in Bread: Composition and Health Impact

Eunhye Son, Ki Han Kwon

Bread is considered a staple food around the world. Potassium bromate is one of the oxidising agents used throughout the baking process for fermentation and ripening purposes. It also has an important influence on the structure and rheological properties of the dough. Due to these properties, potassium bromate is widely used in bread to improve the baking effect and is a permitted food additive. The amount allowed depends on national regulations but, following directives from the European Union and other countries, the FAO/WHO Expert Panel has banned potassium bromate as a flour additive. This is because flour containing potassium bromate has been reported to cause acute health problems such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, irritation of the mucous membranes of the upper digestive tract, and vomiting. Sometimes, under optimal conditions, it is converted to potassium bromide, which is not harmful to ingest, but it cannot be assumed that all bromate is reduced to bromide. Therefore, it is possible that some residue remains in finished baked goods. Consumption of bread with potassium bromate residues is also associated with an increased incidence of cancer and oxidative stress. In light of global public health and consumer demand for a healthy diet, we have reviewed the composition of bread and its impact on human health when potassium bromate is included in the staple food of bread. We have also proposed substitutes for potassium bromate, suggesting the need for a healthy diet worldwide.

Eunhye Son is PhD Candidate at Sungshin Women’s University, Seoul. For correspondence: <>. Ki Han Kwon is Professor at College of General Education, Kookmin University, Seoul. For correspondence: <>


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