What is Bromated Flour?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Bromated flour is flour which has been enriched with potassium bromate, a maturing agent which promotes gluten development in doughs. Some commercial bakers use this type of flour because it yields dependable results, and it makes stronger, more elastic dough which can stand up to bread hooks and other commercial baking tools. Home bakers may choose to use it for much the same reason, when they can obtain bromated flour. Ascorbic acid has replaced potassium bromate as a food additive in a number of areas.

A person sifting bromated flour.
A person sifting bromated flour.

Potassium bromate is classified as a potential carcinogen, meaning that it may be harmful when consumed. In theory, the substance is supposed to bake out of bread dough as it cooks, but if a residue remains behind in the bread, it could be harmful in the long term. A careful balance is required of manufacturers, since they must add enough of the substance to bromated flour to make it perform as expected while not adding too much. Many flour producers have switched to ascorbic acid, which has similar properties without the potential health risk.

Many bakeries use unbromated flour.
Many bakeries use unbromated flour.

In some countries, bromated flour has actually been banned out of concerns about health risks. In the United States, it flour is legal, although state by state labeling laws may dictate that a flour producer clearly label flours which contain potassium bromate. Some organizations such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to ban potassium bromate as a food additive in the United States. Many bakeries and flour mills pride themselves on using unbromated flour, and market their products accordingly.

In general, ascorbic acid has replaced potassium bromide as a preservative in bread and other products.
In general, ascorbic acid has replaced potassium bromide as a preservative in bread and other products.

Typically, bromated flour is used in bread production. Adding potassium bromate makes the bread stronger and more elastic, and also promotes big rises of bread. The resulting bread tends to be strong and springy, well suited to commercial production especially. The substance also bleaches the flour slightly, creating the creamy white color which most people associate with flour. It tends to be used in low protein flours more commonly, since these flours do not develop enough gluten on their own.

Consumers who are concerned about using bromated flour can seek out flours which do not contain potassium bromate. When baking bread, a high gluten flour is very useful, and many flour mills formulate products specifically for bread production which will be clearly labeled as “bread flour.” A number of options including whole wheat and white unbleached are available.

Bromated flour is commonly used in bread making.
Bromated flour is commonly used in bread making.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I wonder if this is causing the rise in Celiac? Additives are not always a good thing. This might be more than some people can handle in their system.


I believe Singapore will jail you for 18 months if you're caught using this crap. Besides the cancer risk, it increases asthma rates considerably.


Thank you FDA for allowing yet another potentially harmful additive to our foods that may help to keep us fat, sick and stupid.


If potassium bromate which is added to flour is causing cancer, then why have governments not banned it for a long time? In fact, it is unfair to use such substance in the dough. Now it seems that most food products are polluted and God knows what human beings can tolerate. Now everything is polluted and everything can cause illness.


KAF Flour has never bromated flour, nor bleached. Thank you for this article.


Potassium bromate has been banned from use in food products in Europe, as well as the United Kingdom in 1990, and Canada in 1994, and most other countries. It was banned in Sri Lanka in 2001[3] and China in 2005. It is also banned in Nigeria, Brazil. In the United States, it has not been banned.


If I use flour without potassium bromide, will that affect my product?


what is the difference between bromate and gluten? What they do?


what is the content of potassium in bread or all purpose flour? I bake my own bread, but have problem with high potassium.


I do I know if flour is bromated?


I would appreciate it if you can give me the materials i need free of charge. thank you so much.


What chemical solution can be used to detect bromate in flour?


What is the mechanism of action of potassium bromate that makes it good at dough development?

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