Health experts in Cameroon have recently revealed the potential health risks associated with Potassium bromate, an ingredient commonly used in bread production.
Potassium bromate is commonly utilised in many Cameroonian bakeries to improve dough strength and increase its elasticity. However, health experts have found that it has more detrimental effects on the human body.
According to Dr. Ebong Serge Bruno, a biologist, consuming the mentioned chemical can lead to digestive problems, such as diarrhoea and constipation, as well as dizziness.
“Aside from that, we have consequences which have to do with the kidneys. This is because once the chemical is consumed through the bread, it has devastating effects. When it reaches the kidney, it becomes toxic and one can find his/herself with kidney insufficiency,” Dr. Ebonge explained during an interview with Equinox TV.
The chemical has been banned by several countries worldwide, including the EU, UK, Canada, China, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Nigeria.
These countries have taken this action due to the harmful health effects associated with the chemical.
The ban in Cameroon was officially established through decrees issued by the Ministry of Industry on March 11, 2009, and January 6, 2000. Additionally, a circular dated January 17, 2000, also contributed to the formalisation of the ban.
On September 19, 2023, Charles Booto à Ngon, the head of the Standards and Quality Agency (ANOR), released a statement to remind bakers about the prohibition of using potassium bromate in the production of bread and other consumable products.
” However, some dishonest bakers make bread without having a certificate of conformity, defying legal and regulatory requirements,” Booto à Ngon acknowledged in the release.
A recent study was conducted to assess the presence of potassium bromate in bread, examine the potential health risks it poses to consumers, and investigate the symptoms of toxicity among bakers in Bamenda.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted to collect data on the quantities of bread produced and the symptoms of potassium-bromated toxicity experienced by bakers during baking. Thirteen bakeries were included in the survey.
Based on the results, it was found that all bakers had experienced symptoms of potassium bromate toxicity. The most commonly reported symptoms of toxicity included painful eyes, cough, diarrhea, and sore throat.
“The concentration of potassium bromate in all bread samples (100%) ranged from 48.50 mg/kg to 10148.50 mg/kg, exceeding the maximum acceptable limits by 9–203 times the dose (50 mg/kg) recommended by Food and Drug Administration” stated the result.
Dr. Ebonge emphasized that the said chemical is not only used in the production of bread but can equally be used in the production of any cereal.