Tag Archives: food additive

Watch out for Potassium Bromate!

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Wonder bread, Chex Mix, Swanson dinners and other bread-based products all have one ingredients in common, potassium bromate. If you scroll through some of your favorite bread products you’ll find that most nutrition labels list this controversial ingredient. However, some consumers may not pay attention to it because potassium is linked to the term, and that’s a good thing, right? You may want to start looking closely for this ingredient and check your pantry for products that label it. Here’s why:
What exactly is potassium bromate? We’ll break it down. Potassium is a chemical element that most people are very familiar with. We need potassium for brain and nerve function, osmotic balance, and to maintain electrolyte balance. It’s naturally occurring in a variety of foods such as bananas, avocados, potatoes, pistachios, and other fish, nuts, herbs, and produce.

The component that plagues this controversial ingredient is “bromate.” Bromate is any oxyanion, which in other terms means the chemical element Bromine is bonded to an oxygen atom. Bromine is a halogen element on the periodic table, and thus highly reactive and potentially lethal to biological organisms in certain quantities.
When food scientists combined potassium with bromate, they found they created a compound that strengthens flour and helps bread puff up during baking. Also, breads containing this ingredient will have a much longer shelf-life. In most cases, the compound is used up entirely during the baking process, and won’t cause any harm if consumed. However, there are some cases in which there are residual amounts of potassium bromate remaining, and could potentially cause harmful effects to humans.
Research has shown that potassium bromate causes thyroid and kidney tumors in rats, and has been labeled “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Many countries such as Canada, China, Peru, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and the European Union have banned potassium bromate as a food additive. However, the United States has not yet banned this additive. Instead, they ask bakers to voluntarily stop using this ingredient. California has enforced a law that requires all products with this ingredient be labeled with a cancer warning.
Until the FDA banishes it, you should remain on the lookout.

Get to know the controversial food additive Olestra!


Foodfacts.com wants to help you learn more about what controversial food additives are being put into your foods. Olestra is a fat substitute used in the cooking and preparation of foods, most commonly those foods normally containing high concentrations of fat. Potato chips were one of the first commercially available products to have it used in their preparation. The benefit is the extreme lowering or complete elimination of a traditionally fatty food’s fat content. Like insoluble fiber found in corn and apples, olestra is not digested or absorbed by the body, and it passes through the human digestive system completely unchanged.
Olestra, also known by the brand name Olean®, was discovered by researchers Fred Mattson and Robert Volpenhein of Proctor & Gamble (P&G) in 1968. The original study, which surrounded fats that could be more easily digested by premature infants, led to P&G contacting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1971 to investigate the testing that would be necessary to manufacture and market Olean® as a food additive, specifically as a fat replacement.

In the testing that followed, P&G scientists noted an interesting side effect when olestra was used to replace natural dietary fats. A drop in the level of blood cholesterol resulted when olestra was used. P&G subsequently filed a request with the FDA to market olestra as a drug in the treatment of high cholesterol. However, P&G’s studies failed to produce the 15% decline in cholesterol levels to quality olestra as a treatment.

It wasn’t until 1996 that the FDA finally approved olestra as a food additive. The first product to use Olean® as a substitute for dietary fat was the WOW® brand of potato chips by Frito-Lay®. Following their national launch in 1998, the WOW® chips were initially successful, raking in sales in excess of $400 million US Dollars (USD). However, due largely to reports of certain unpleasant side effects that were subsequently listed on a health warning label on the product as mandated by the FDA, sales dropped sharply.
The side effects—including loose stools, abdominal cramping, and olestra’s interference with the body’s ability to absorb certain crucial vitamins, namely Vitamins A, D, E, and K—were enough to cut sales in half by 2000 to $200 million USD. Although the intestinal side effects, which became commonly known as “anal leakage” in the media, occurred only as a result of over-consumption, it was enough to tarnish the product’s reputation and diminish consumer appeal. Citing further studies, the FDA decided that the warning label wasn’t warranted and approved its removal despite complaints numbering over 20,000 regarding side effects. It has also been proven since the time of the original studies that Olean® has no impact on the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

Olestra, under the brand name Olean®, is still used primarily as a fat substitute in the manufacture of certain savory snack foods including Lays® Light Potato Chips, Doritos® Light Snack Chips, Pringles® Light Potato Crisps, Ruffles® Light Potato Chips, and Tostitos® Light Tortilla Chips. The FDA declared Olean® as “Generally Regarded As Safe” (GRAS) in late 2008 for use in the production of prepackaged, ready-to-eat cookies using Olean® BakeLean. BakeLean products are proprietary blends of Olean® and vegetable oils used as a substitute for butter, margarine, and shortening in the manufacture of baked goods, reducing the calories and fat content of the end product by 75%. Olean® is not approved for use or sale in Canada or the European Union.

Article provided by wisegeek.com

Interesterified Fat: A Controversial Replacement for Trans Fat

blog.foodfacts.com wants to make people more aware of what controversial food additives are being put into their foods. Today foodfacts.com looks into the controversial food additive Interesterified Fat. What is interesterified fat? Just as food manufacturers have started to remove them from their products, restaurants have been eliminating them from their menus, and government entities have begun to ban them, transfats have been replaced by a new kind of fat with a lengthy and unpronounceable name—INTERESTERIFIED FATS. While these fats may be interesting, the root word from which their name is derives is not INTEREST, but ESTER . Esters are organic compounds formed from an organic acid and an alcohol.

Interesterification is one of three main fat modification techniques. The other two techniques are fractionation and hydrogenation, which is the process used to produce transfats.

Interesterification is the process of rearranging the fatty acids in triglyceride molecules. Triglycerides form the basic structure of most fats and oils. They are composed of glycerol and three chains of fatty acids. Interesterified fats (IFs) are used in shortening for baked goods, fat for frying, in butter substitutes, such as soft margarine. The interesterification process maintains solid fat content at ambient temperatures while lowering the melting point of the fat.

Interestified Fat in Food
While consumers are being regularly informed by the food manufactures and restaurants that transfats are being removed from their menus, very little is being said about the fats that are replacing transfats. The class of interesterified fats provides one of the least expensive options for fats used in baking and frying. There are two types of interestification–one that uses chemical catalysts —usually metals or salts, and another that uses enzymic catalysts. Use of chemical catalysts is less expensive than use of enzymic catalysts, but the chemical catalysts require manufacturing steps to purify and deodorize the finished product.

Why should the consumer care about how fats are made? Interestingly, it appears that changing or re-arranging the molecules of fats or a combination of fats during the interesterification process may affect how the fats are metabolized in the human body. A recent joint study conducted in Malaysia and at Brandeis University indicated that not only did IFs depress beneficial HDL cholesterol, it appeared to raise blood glucose levels and decrease insulin production. Elevation of blood glucose and suppression of insulin production are precursors to diabetes. In addition, further elevation of blood glucose and reduction in insulin levels could be dangerous to those who are already have diabetes. Further studies are needed, but this study has raised real concerns about the use of IFs to replace transfats, especially if they are used widely and without the knowledge of consumers.