Dangerous Food Additive Making Americans Sick Has Been Banned in Europe, China, and India

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Mar 21, 2024

We’d all like to think all the foods we consume are safe and shouldn’t cause health issues, but we’d be wrong.

Bread is a popular food item that people eat all over the world. However, one of the ingredients used in American bread has been banned in other places around the world, and it may be the reason behind Americans getting sick.

Other Countries Have Banned This Additive

Additives are present in many foods, but there is one additive used in bread made in the US that has been banned in places like Europe, China, and India.

A close up of potassium bromate, an additive used in bread in the United States

Source: Danny S/Wikimedia Commons

This additive is potassium bromate which is used to strengthen the dough, but it could be causing more harm than good.

Potassium Bromate Is a Carcinogen

Carcinogens are things that can be a factor in developing cancer and can be found in the air, in products, or food, according to WedMD, with one of the biggest carcinogens being cigarettes.

A cigarette that had been lit and placed in a clear ashtray.

Source: Tomasz Sienicki/Wikimedia Commons

It is worth pointing out that potassium bromate isn’t a confirmed carcinogen and just because you consume something that is classified as one doesn’t mean you will develop cancer.

Experts Believe There Are Cases Where Cancer Could Have Been Avoided

While potassium bromate isn’t confirmed as a carcinogen, experts believe that had bread been made without the ingredient, cancer could have been avoided.

A zoomed-in image of cancer cells. There are purple, pink, blue, and red dots.

Source: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Professor Erik Millstone told CBS News he believes that had people consumed the bread in Europe instead of the US, he is almost certain they wouldn’t have developed cancer.

Other Additives Are Banned in Europe and Not the US

Potassium bromate isn’t the only additive banned in Europe and not in the US as there are other products Americans are consuming that will be banned elsewhere.

Titanium dioxide, which looks like white powder.

Source: Benjah-bmm27/Wikimedia Commons

This includes titanium dioxide, brominated vegetable oil, azodicarbonamide, and propylparaben. 

The FDA Has Had Its Say

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement regarding the use of potassium bromate, saying that ingredients are only used at safe levels.

The outside of the FDA building surrounded by trees, a road, and a patch of grass.

Source: The US Food and Drug Administration/Wikimedia Commons

The FDA claims the safe amount of potassium bromate to use is 0.0075 parts for every 100 parts by the weight of the flour, according to the Center for Research on Ingredient Safety


The FDA Remains Up-To-Date

As the FDA maintains and controls food standards in the US, which means keeping updated with what the scientists say.

The outside of the FDA building. There are gates outside the building with security to let people in and out.

Source: CaptJayRuffins/Wikimedia Commons

This means they have to pay attention to any new information that comes out about various food products and ingredients, and ensure to update their guidance to reflect this. 


People Are Moving Out of the US Due to Food Safety Concerns

With potassium bromate and other additives raising concerns regarding food safety and their use in the US, it has caused some people to move away from the US and to countries where they know the food is safer.

Boxes packed up in an empty room.

Source: Michal Balong/Unsplash

One woman grew up in New York and moved to London, where she realized the food safety standards are higher. Due to this, she has decided to never move back. 


Americans Are Unaware of the Dangers of Everyday Products

Due to a lack of education and knowledge about food safety, many Americans are unaware of what they have in their cupboards.

Food shelves fully stocked in an American supermarket. There are mostly cans and jars with various products inside.

Source: Chandlervid85/Freekpik

Many assume that just because something is available to buy with ease means it’s perfectly fine for them to consume it when that isn’t always the case. 


More Research Is Being Published Daily

Research into what ingredients in food either are or aren’t safe for humans to consume is being published daily.

A scientist doing some research. They are wearing purple latex gloves and are handling various things in slim test tubes.

Source: CDC/Unsplash

Recent research has found that food dyes that are used in products such as candy and cakes may be harming our gut function.


The FDA Was Previously Petitioned Regarding Potassium Bromate

The idea of potassium bromate being dangerous isn’t a new concept, as the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned them about it over twenty years ago.

The outside of the US FDA building. There is a tree next to the building.

Source: The US Food and Drug Administration/Wikimedia Commons

However, according to The Guardian, the FDA responded at the time saying they were unable to look into it as they had a limited amount of resources and other things were more of a priority. 


The Replacements on Offer Aren’t Much Better

Some companies are still using potassium bromate, but others have replaced it with potassium iodate, which isn’t much better and still has a chance of causing cancer.

Potassium iodate in a glass bowl. The potassium iodate looks like white powder.

Source: Spotzillah/Wikimedia Commons

So, whether America will follow Europe, China, and India in banning potassium bromate, or whether any healthier alternatives will be put in products such as bread remains to be seen.