A new report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that dozens of commercially made baked goods contain an ingredient that has previously been linked to cancer. In fact, this ingredient is actually banned in other countries but it is still in foods that are bought and consumed every day in the United States.

This ingredient is called potassium bromate. Food manufacturers mix this ingredient with flour to improve the strength and elasticity of the dough. Potassium bromate also speeds up the baking process and gives the finished bread product that familiar white color that it’s known for.

While it makes the lives of manufacturers easier, this additive has been associated with some very serious health issues. Researchers in Japan have found that lab animals that were exposed to the chemical were more likely to develop benign or malignant tumors than those who weren’t.

Co-author of the study and EWG database analyst Jose Aguaya said that although there haven’t been intentional studies exposing humans to potassium bromate, there have been studies done on human cells.

The studies that have been conducted on human cells showed some terrifying results. Potassium bromate was shown to have genotoxic effects on the cells, or in other words, it causes damage to the DNA of the cells. When the DNA of a cell is tampered with, it leaves the cells vulnerable to becoming cancer cells.

Manufacturers claim that the baking process changes potassium bromate to potassium bromide, which is a salt. This isn’t always the case however; if the ingredients aren’t mixed correctly at the right ratios, or aren’t cooked properly the original compound remains. The EWG report states that some samples of finished bread products in the UK still contained the compound.

Multiple countries around the world have banned the use of this additive. The UK, China, Canada, the European Union, and Brazil have all banned it from being used in baking. Only the United States lets this substance be used. The FDA approves 75 parts per million in flour, and manufacturers must list it in its ingredients.

Only the state of California has passed legislation making it mandatory for foods containing potassium bromate to come with a warning label, informing consumers of their risk.

The EWG has compiled a list of items that are in grocery stores across the country that contain this cancerous additive. The list contains a whopping 86 food items that are consumed by thousands of Americans every day. If you are trying to avoid this additive (and you should) look for the words ‘potassium bromate’ or ‘bromated flour’ in the list of ingredients.

The food industry seems to have no qualms about what it puts into massed produced food items. While eating whole foods is the best way to go, that isn’t the reality for some people whose diet consists of processed foods. That does not mean that it should be filled with things that are going to make them sick.

Share this information so we can protect ourselves from the dangers of the food industry.