The bromate era has faded. Here’s how to make your baked goods healthier and more sustainable

Enzymes have emerged as a sustainable solution in the baking industry, enabling healthier lives and transforming baking practices. By eliminating harmful additives like bromate, enzymes enhance the quality and nutritional value of baked goods.

In this article, we explore how enzymes contribute to healthier lifestyles, promote sustainability, and align with some United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, we examine the regions where bromate usage has been discontinued due to safety concerns.

fresh bread rolls

What is bromate and what does it do in baking?

For centuries, breadmaking relied on basic ingredients like flour, yeast, salt, and water. In 1923, the introduction of bromate, a compound containing bromine and oxygen (BrO₃⁻), changed baking. Functioning as a food additive, bromate enhances dough quality and increases the volume of baked goods. It plays a vital role in improving the texture and volume of bread and other baked items. By strengthening the gluten structure through an oxidation reaction with flour proteins, bromate enhances dough elasticity & strength, as well as gas retention during baking. This leads to bread and baked goods with a lighter, fluffier texture and a larger overall volume.

Next to bromate, iodate is also a food ingredient that rapidly strengthens gluten protein bonds in bread dough upon mixing, accelerating the rise of bread during baking. Iodate is often used alongside the slow-acting oxidizer bromate or used as an alternative to it since it is seen to pose less risks.

Is Bromate safe?  

In 1999, the International Agency on Research for Cancer classified potassium bromate as a possible human carcinogen, indicating a potential link to cancer development. This classification has raised concerns about its safety and led to a decline in its use. Furthermore, studies have found it to affect the nutritional quality of bread and degrade vitamins A2, B1, B2 and niacin, which are the main vitamins available in bread. Moreover, Iodate is not well-tested and may also pose a cancer risk and contribute to thyroid-related diseases. Nowadays, alternatives to potassium bromate exist that can achieve similar results in breadmaking without the associated risks.


freshly sliced bread

Regions Where Bromate Usage Has Been Discontinued

Due to aforementioned safety concerns, many regions have discontinued the use of bromate. The European Union banned it in 1990, Canada & Nigeria followed shortly after. Over the last 30 years, various countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Sri Lanka, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand[1] have prohibited the use of potassium bromate and iodate in baked goods. However, there are a few regions which continue to allow the use of bromate and/ or iodate, although selectively under heavy regulation.

1) United States:

Despite health concerns, the US FDA labels potassium bromate as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) in bread under certain thresholds. Advocacy groups and health organizations seek a ban due to risks and available alternatives. Some US bread makers have already ceased its use, while certain states require warning labels on products containing it. As of May 2023, two states California and New York are considering banning the use of potassium bromate.

2) Japan:

Japan has implemented regulations to restrict bromate usage since the early 1990s but hasn’t banned it completely. Nevertheless, the majority of manufacturers have voluntarily stopped using potassium bromate in the 1980 but today it’s surprisingly used again by some industry players.

3) Others:

While a majority of countries have banned or restricted the use of potassium bromate a few exceptions occur. This applies to various markets in South America, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific. As the understanding of the legislation can vary, we are happy to discuss individual cases with you directly.


[1] Many more countries have banned the use of the chemical oxidant, this is just an Novozymes internal overview. Please reach out for a more detailed analysis.  

Enzymes as sustainable, healthier alternatives to Bromate

As the baking industry embarks on the journey to a bromate-free era, one challenge remains paramount: maintaining the quality of baked goods as the strong dough conditioning effect of bromate is difficult to replicate. From dough rheology to the final, mouthwatering loaf, quality standards must persist.  This is where enzymes shine.

Novozymes’ Fungamyl®, our famous amylase, deftly corrects flour properties. The outcome? Accelerated fermentation rates, amplified gas production, and a robust oven spring that results in perfect bread volume. But the solution doesn't stop there. Enter xylanases or hemicellulases, like Panzea®, Pentopan®Mono, and Celluclast® – these mighty enzymes bolster dough stability, amplify mixing tolerance, and safeguard against overfermentation. One thing they have in common is elevating dough extensibility, a crucial factor for a sensational crumb. Equally impressive is Gluzyme® Fortis, a glucose oxidase that masters dough elasticity to yield a stronger, less sticky dough. Moreover, it provides the bread with impeccable stability and that sought-after "bloom". By harmonizing these enzyme powerhouses, the performance of potassium bromate can be matched, thus making this outdated ingredient redundant.

But let's delve deeper – specific flour and bread applications can reap the benefits of an additional player: phosphor-lipases. Enter Lipopan® Fortis, an enzyme that elevates dough consistency and stability. The ripple effect? Enhanced fermentation tolerance, translating to generous bread loaf volumes, a meticulously even crumb structure, and a texture that dances on the palate.

Novozymes, a trailblazer in enzyme innovation, has long championed the inclusion of enzymes as a healthier substitute for bromate. This transition isn't just about embracing a novel solution; it's about embracing a better way of living. Health-conscious consumers can now indulge in baked delights without harmful additives lurking in the shadows, thanks to enzymes that pave the way to safer and more wholesome treats. This commitment to consumer well-being aligns seamlessly with the ideals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 – ensuring healthier lives for all.

Yet, the journey isn't solitary. The success of enzyme-based baking hinges on a symphony of collaboration. Think of the baking industry, visionary formulators, enzyme maestros, and vigilant regulators – all orchestrating change. This collaboration transcends boundaries and echoes the essence of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17, fostering partnerships that drive shared goals.

In the realm of baking, where tradition meets innovation, enzymes have emerged as catalysts for change. The bromate era has faded, making way for a healthier, more sustainable “today”. As ovens continue to waft out delightful aromas, let us savor not just the taste, but also the conscious choices that shape our world – one scrumptious bite at a time.


The transformation of the baking industry through the integration of enzymes as a safer and healthier alternative to chemical oxidants like bromate marks a significant leap towards achieving sustainable and nutritious baking practices. The era of bromate, while instrumental in enhancing bread baking performance, was shadowed by mounting health concerns and diminishing nutritional value. As countries around the world phased out bromate due to potential carcinogenic risks, the baking industry faced the challenge of maintaining quality standards without compromising on safety.

Enzymes have emerged as the cornerstone of this transition, offering a multifaceted solution that addresses both quality and health considerations. Novozymes’ enzymes have demonstrated their efficacy in maintaining dough properties, enhancing fermentation rates, improving gas production, and ensuring optimal oven spring. The strategic integration of these enzyme classes mirrors the performance of bromate, providing the baking industry with a seamless alternative that upholds quality while sidestepping the health hazards associated with chemical oxidants.

Furthermore, this paradigm shift towards enzyme-based baking practices underscores the power of collaboration and partnership across the baking industry for safer, more sustainable baking. Through knowledge sharing, innovation, and collective effort, these partnerships have not only successfully replaced bromate but have also laid the foundation for a more robust, health-conscious, and sustainable baking ecosystem.

Partnership Baking