Potassium bromate is a chemical substance used in the milling and baking industries worldwide to produce bakery products. The bromate ions (BrO3) exist in a number of salts which the most common are potassium and sodium bromates. Among others, potassium bromate is preferred in terms of usage .
This slow acting oxidant was first introduced as a bread improver in 1916 (Atang, 2003). Potassium bromate serve as an oxidizing agent, flour improver, flour maturing agent, flour enhancer, neutralizer, dough conditioner which prevents dough from falling and at the same time yield many loaves.
Despite this distinct quality of potassium bromate that has endeared bakers to it there has been vehement objections globally as regards the continued usage of “unsafe” and non natures derive substances as food additives.
Early History Of Potassium Bromate
In 1992 and 1993 the food and Drug Administration in America tested several loaves of bread in circulation and made a surprising discovery that many loaves had detectable levels of bromate. In the United Kingdom, 28 brands of bread were tested for bromate by the Food Science Laboratory in 1989, Three quarters of the loaves also had significant levels of residual bromate.
This was followed by a ban on the use of potassium bromate in Britain. In 1993, the Joint Expert Committee on Food and Additives [JECFA], Food Administration Organization [FAO], World Health Organization [WHO] recommended that potassium bromate be removed from the list of approved flour treatment agents. Many other countries like Canada, Greece, Japan, Belgium; Nigeria to name a few followed the World Health Organization (WHO) directive and banned the use of potassium bromate.
In milling and baking industry world wide, the most significant achievement is the discontinuance of potassium bromate as a dough enhancer of choice and its replacement by many other different alternative additives like ascorbic acid, L-cysteine Hydrochloride, Butylated Hydroxyarisole, Ascorbic Palmitate, Ascorbic Stearate, either singly or in combination.
In Nigeria, this universally acclaimed choice dough oxidant has been in use since 1945 (Attang, 2003). In 1993, the then Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of potassium bromate without much compliance by bakers.
In 1995, the banning and compliance monitoring of potassium bromate as a flour/bread improver by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control [NAFDAC]. NAFDAC since then have intensified efforts to totally eradicate the use of potassium bromate in Nigeria and to fight the unscrupulous providers and users of bromate in bread because of the numerous health hazards associated with it. According to Olaitan in 2003 potassium bromate cause alterations in the normal sequence of cells in human Deoxy Ribonucleic Acid (DNA). Once the sequence of a single cell is changed, cancer follows.
It also poses grave danger to public health over prolonged period of usage. It has been found that potassium bromate decomposes vitamins A, B1, B2, Niacin and E which are the main vitamins available n bread. Also, from the results obtained in vivo mutagenicity studies, conclusion is drawn that potassium bromate is a potential cancer initiator (Ishidate, 1984). The role of the nurse in the fight against the use of potassium bromate in bakery products is to create more awareness on the health hazards of potassium bromate through health education.