London – From baguettes to focaccia, Europe is known for its bread. But one ingredient is missing: potassium bromate. It is a suspected carcinogen banned for human consumption in Europe, China, and India but not in the United States.
In the US, the chemical compound is used by some food manufacturers, usually fine crystals or powder, to strengthen dough. It is believed to be in over 100 products.
“There is evidence that it can be toxic to consumers, can even trigger or promote tumor development,” Professor Eric Millstone, a nutritional supplements expert at England’s University of Sussex, told CBS News. He said European regulators were taking a much more cautious approach to food safety than their US counterparts.
When asked whether it was safe to say that regulatory differences were causing people in the US to get cancers they would not get if they only ate in Europe, Millstone said that “by almost certain conclusions we can come to exist.”
It’s not just potassium bromate. A number of other chemicals and substances banned in Europe for health reasons are also permitted in the US, including titanium dioxide (aka E171); Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) (E443); potassium bromate (E924); Azodicarbonamide (E927a) and propylparaben (E217).
Millstone, who has spent nearly half a century researching food science and agriculture, said most Americans might not be aware of their daily exposure to substances in their food that are considered unsafe in Europe.
“They might just think, ‘Well, if it’s available or in a store, that’s probably good,'” he says.
In a statement to CBS News, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that all dietary supplements require “pre-market evaluation” and “Regulation requires proof that any substance is safe at the level of intended use before being released into food.” can be added. “
“Once approved, our scientists continue to review relevant new information to determine whether there are safety concerns and whether the substance is no longer safe to use,” the agency added.
Stacey McNamara is originally from upstate New York but has lived in London for a decade. She says raising children in England opened her eyes to what is allowed in US food.
McNamara has no plans to come home, and he told CBS News that food safety was “definitely” part of that decision.
In a statement to CBS News, the FDA said that when used properly, potassium bromate becomes a harmless substance during food production.
However, the FDA recognizes that not all compounds used in a particular recipe may be changed during the manufacturing process, but control measures have been implemented to minimize the final product’s amount.