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The Dangerous Effect Of The Bleaching Agents Added To Bread

Most of the bread we buy in Nigeria has a small section on the bread wrapper where bromate free or free from preservatives is written on it. This labelling started not because bakeries allegedly stopped adding it but because the Dora Akunyili led-NAFDAC administration clamped on bakeries using dangerous bleaching preservatives.

Part of the reason for adding these bleaching agents is to make the bread appear white and maintain its fresh look. It is believed that this white colour makes it visually appealing. The problem with this is that these bleaching agents are dangerous to our health and should be totally avoided. Here is a list of some of the agents

Freshly Baked Homemade White Bread. Photo credit: One Green Planet

Potassium Bromate
This oxidizing agent (additive) has been banned in several countries including Canada, Brazil, European Union and the Dora Akunyili led-NAFDAC administration because it caused cancer in the thyroids of lab rats and mice. In humans, it damages the kidney. Because most of the bread gotten in Nigeria have Bromate free written on them, it is difficult to know which bakery is telling the truth.

Benzoyl Peroxide
When mixed with flour, it reacts with the flour and creates benzoic acid and free radicals. Benzoic acid is not entirely bad because we have naturally occurring ones but when it is too much, it can cause irritation, vomiting and weakness, asthma and hyperactivity. On the other hand, the free radicals damage our DNAs. It can also negatively affect how the body converts omega-6 and omega-3 acids.

Chlorine Dioxide Gas
In the process of reacting with the flour, this dangerous chemical destroys the remaining vitamin E left in the flour and produces Alloxan which is known to destroy the insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas.
Other harmful bleaching ingredients include Calcium Peroxide which can cause asthma and Nitrogen Trichloride, a major trigger of epilepsy in dogs.

It is advisable to buy daily baked in-house bread because they hardly ever contain preservatives.

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BreadNjideka Agbo
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