Americans are consuming foods that are making them ill, experts have warned.
The US allows potassium bromate to be used in food, even though it is a suspected carcinogen that's banned for human consumption in Europe, China and India.
The compound, which usually comes in the form fine crystals or powder to strengthen dough is estimated to be in more than 100 products.
"There is evidence that it may be toxic to human consumers, that it may even either initiate or promote the development of tumors," professor Erik Millstone, an expert on food additives at the University of Sussex, told CBS News. He said European regulators take a much more cautious approach to food safety than their U.S. counterparts.
Asked if it can be said with certainty that differences in regulations mean people in the U.S. have developed cancers that they would not have developed if they'd been eating exclusively in Europe, Millstone said that was "almost certainly the conclusion that we could reach."
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Meanwhile a range of other chemicals and substances banned in Europe over health concerns are also permitted in the U.S., including Titanium dioxide (also known as E171); Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) (E443); Potassium bromate (E924); Azodicarbonamide (E927a) and Propylparaben (E217).
Millstone said most Americans were likely completely unaware that they were being exposed on a daily basis to substances in their food viewed as dangerous in Europe.
"They probably just think, 'Well, if it's available or it's in the store, it's probably fine,'" he said.
In a statement to CBS News, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said all food additives require "pre-market evaluation" and "regulations require evidence that each substance is safe at its intended level of use before it may be added to foods."
"Post-approval, our scientists continue to review relevant new information to determine whether there are safety questions and whether the use of such substance is no longer safe," the agency added.
It also said that when used properly, potassium bromate converts into a harmless substance during food production.
The FDA acknowledged, however, that not all of the compound used in any given recipe may convert during the production process, but that control measures were utilized to minimize the amount in final products.
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