The trace of tox­i­c­ity that may be hid­ing in our bread

- By Dr. Karthikeya­n D. Ra­ja­mani - guest writer

Are you of­ten won­der­ing what the best, yet quick­est meal op­tions are for you each day? In our fast-paced mod­ern world most of us have in­suf­fi­cient time to pre­pare nu­tri­tious food. The ideal quick food choices are of­ten bread sand­wiches or other bread-based op­tions. Though sav­ing time, the fast-food op­tion can have more car­cino­gen­e­sis when pro­duced with the flour en­hancer, potas­sium bro­mate. Potas­sium bro­mate is mostly used as a flour en­hancer, to make more dough, and in­crease bread rise in the oven. Also, it helps to in­crease loaf vol­ume and tex­ture. “Flour of death” is the nick­name given to the prod­uct con­tain­ing potas­sium bro­mate (KBrO3).

The bak­ing process con­verts potas­sium bro­mate into a salt - potas­sium bro­mide. But if in­gre­di­ents aren’t mixed at the cor­rect ra­tios, or aren’t cooked prop­erly, the orig­i­nal com­pound may re­main. In 1999, the In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer (IARC) clas­si­fied potas­sium bro­mate as pos­si­bly car­cino­genic to hu­mans. It is clas­si­fied as cat­e­gory 2B car­cino­gen (po­ten­tially car­cino­genic to hu­mans). Re­cently, our find­ings about the tox­i­c­ity of KBrO3 in ex­per­i­men­tal an­i­mals have been pub­lished in Cell Bi­ol­ogy and Tox­i­col­ogy - An In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal De­voted to Re­search at the Cel­lu­lar Level.

The find­ings from our study have clearly em­pha­sized that KBrO3 tox­i­c­ity can re­sult in re­nal can­cer through re­nal ox­ida­tive stress. It also has geno­toxic ef­fect, in other words, it causes dam­age to the cell’s DNA.

Ox­ida­tive dam­age is the ini­tial in­jury that can be caused when it is con­sumed ev­ery day, lead­ing to vas­cu­lar in­jury and dam­ag­ing our blood ves­sels. If you can, it is best to con­sume such prod­ucts once a week, so that you can give the body a chance to re­cover. Com­pared to nor­mal in­di­vid­u­als, a change in blood sugar level, serum cre­a­ti­nine, blood urea ni­tro­gen, and ab­nor­mal blood fil­tra­tion are more likely to be early symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with fer­til­ity com­pli­ca­tions and kid­ney prob­lems.

You could say that “a bowl of rice may be a health­ier choice.” When busy, it is an easy op­tion to con­sume bread sand­wiches, burg­ers, or piz­zas that may have high doses of pos­si­ble hu­man car­cino­gens, which lead to re­nal ox­ida­tive stress, through fre­quent ex­po­sure that pro­motes re­nal car­cino­gen­e­sis. A pre­vi­ous re­port from Centre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment (CSE),

New Delhi on May 23rd, 2016, men­tioned about 84% of an­a­lyzed bread sam­ples (KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Sub­way and McDon­ald’s) tested pos­i­tive with potas­sium bro­mate/io­date. Potas­sium io­date is an­other car­cino­gen which causes thy­roid dis­or­ders. There is in­creased mor­tal­ity due to a hor­monal im­bal­ance where the frequency of thy­roid dis­eases is in­creased.

As re­ported, the in­ci­dence rate is 3% of all adult can­cer and 85% of all kid­ney can­cer.

The Euro­pean Union, the UK, China, Canada and Brazil all for­bid the use of the ad­di­tive in bak­ing. Fol­lowed by the CSE re­port, Food Safety and Stan­dards Au­thor­ity of In­dia (FSSAI) has de­cided to re­move this from the list of per­mit­ted ad­di­tives which set per­mis­si­ble lim­its is 50 parts per mil­lion as per the Food Safety and Stan­dards Act, 2006. De­spite the ban­ning de­ci­sion of FSSAI, Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA), Goa have found pos­i­tive traces (4/18) of potas­sium bro­mate in bread sam­ples, but within per­mis­si­ble lim­its (25 ppm - parts per mil­lion). Ac­cord­ing to the Food Safety and Stan­dards Act, 2006 the max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble limit is 20 ppm.

Ap­prox­i­mately, 1 in 20 of us have been hav­ing bread-based food which could have low to high doses of potas­sium bro­mate. The steps taken might be ab­surd for those who are not aware of the tox­i­c­ity of potas­sium bro­mate. The re­cent de­ci­sion of FSSAI has helped to nudge or­ga­ni­za­tions to re­move potas­sium bro­mate from their list of preser­va­tives and per­mit­ted ad­di­tives. Peo­ple who are less fa­mil­iar about the tox­i­c­ity of potas­sium bro­mate may find tak­ing pre­cau­tions ab­surd.

There are lots of dis­parate pieces in the food safety sys­tem here, where no one knows who has con­trol over tox­i­c­ity. I think us­ing high­erqual­ity in­gre­di­ents is cer­tainly worth it, if it means pro­tect­ing the health of you and your loved ones.

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