AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE HEALTH DANGERS OF POTASSIUM BROMATE CONTENT IN BREAD
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Bread is an important source of food in Nigeria. It is consumed extensively in homes, restaurants and hotels. Bread is made from low protein wheat. It usually contains several ingredients that would help improve the quality of bread. Some of the basic identified ingredients, apart from flour are table salt, sugars,
flavors and at least a flour improver such as potassium bro-mate (Vicki, 1997). The major challenge in both flour milling industry and bakeries is the baking quality of flour, which is determined by the capacity of the dough prepared from it to retain gas. As a result of wide variations in the composition of flour, various treatments and supplements conditioning agents (flour/bread improver) are added for strength during mixing, extensibility for molding and also to increase loaf volume and texture. Over the years, several improver have been used but studies have shown some to be deleterious to health, thereby necessitating their ban. The use of potassium bro-mate has been a common choice among flour miller and bakers throughout the world because it is cheap and probably the most efficient oxidizing agent. It acts as a slow oxidizing agent throughout the fermentation proofing and baking process affecting the structure and the theological properties of the dough. As a result, many bakeries use potassium bro-mate as an additive to assist in the raising process and to produce a texture in the finished product that is appealing to the public.
Potassium bro-mate has adverse effect on health and its health effect are divided into two categories. The first category deals with effect related to non cancer effect .
This includes its effect on the nutritional quality of bread. It degrades vitamins A2, B1, B2, E and niacin which are the main vitamins available in bread (IARC, 1999). Studies (IARC, 1999) have shown significant differences in essential fatty acid content of flour treated with bromate or in bread made from flour containing bromate.
In humans, potassium bromate can cause cough and sore throat when inhaled (Atkins, 1993). Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, kidney failure, hearing loss, bronchial and ocular problems, are some of the other non cancer health problems associated with ingestion of potassium bromate (Atkins,
1993). In the second category, numerous studies have revealed the potential of potassium bromate to cause cancer in experimental animals and in humans (CSPI, 1999; Watson, 2000). In bromate as bread improver has been banned. In Nigeria however, some breadmakers/bakeries have continued to include potassium bromate in their bread.
Furthermore, a preliminary survey revealed that some other materials employed in bread making (e.g. water) and the environments where these bakeries are located are not free from contamination by heavy metals such as lead. It is against this background that this investigation was undertaken in eastern part of
Nigeria where bread consumption is very high and where many of the bakeries are located in the midst of slums and squartments. This study therefore is aimed at assessing the safety of bread being marketed in the Nigerian market