FURTHER REVELATIONS by C.Lovell.
Most of the information in this paper has not been easy to obtain, and much of it is sensitive. In most casesthe sources of information have been indicated by a code; refer to the last sheet for the bibliography andcodes. All statements have been made in good faith, but it is possible that some of the reference books arenow out of date, or that legislation has changed. There may be mistakes, but then the man who makes nomistakes does not usually make anything: he certainly does not make attempts to find out the truth! Theauthor will be glad to receive notice of corrections or any additional information.
THE MISSING PERCENTAGE.
Anyone who has read "The Truth about Flour" must wonder why the Trading Standards Inspectorate permitsmills to remove a percentage of the ground wheat and yet still call the resulting product "Wholemeal". Theregulations quite clearly state that Wholemeal flour should be "the whole of the product". Due to this curiouslapse in enforcement it is now necessary to invent another word to describe wholemeal that has not hadanything removed! Herein the term "real wholemeal" will be used. It should particularly be noted that the"1OO%" in "1OO% wholemeal" is not part of the legal definition, and in the light of the knowledge that oftena percentage is missing, the 1OO% is positively misleading. It is quite clearly stated in several books thatwholemeal as supplied to bakers has had about 5% of the total flour removed!
WHY the Inspectorate does not enforce the law remains a mystery. Why the millers indulge in this practice isa different matter; personal research has shown that in the smaller mills it is the result of a combination oflack of interest, lack of knowledge, and lack of conscience.
In the very small simple mills, the flour goes straight from the millstones into bags, but in larger mills itbecomes necessary to store the flour in bins or hoppers; this means that the flour must be moved, usually inan upward direction. The most usual method of moving flour is by suction.
Installation of a suction system is very desirable to the millowner, as apart from moving the flour, it alsokeeps the millstones cool and prevents a build up of flour due to condensation, and hence greatly increasesthe output of the millstones. Suction systems are usually installed by contractors, and part of the "package" isa rotary screen on the end of the suction pipe; this consists of a rotating "screen" of wire mesh of such a sizethat the smaller pieces of flour pass through, but larger impurities are sent elsewhere. It is very easy forspiders and other things to get into flour. One of the most prevalent nuisances is the Flour Moth, againstwhich millers fight a never−ending battle, so it is a great comfort to the miller if he can install a screen toremove any such things from his flour. This would be a legitimate and sensible use of screening because itwould remove nothing from the flour that was not there in the first place, but as we shall see, the amountscreened out when screens are used far exceeds the odd moth and spider. Incidentally, a common method ofdealing with flour moths is to have a machine that chops them into pieces too small to be seen!
Sreening has another advantage; if the millstones are not set close enough, or are not sharp enough, then flourthat is not as fine as desired can be separated by a screen. Thus a finer flour can be made by removing thelarger pieces of bran, but if part of the whole is removed how can the resultant still be wholemeal?
It must be appreciated that not all millers are enthusiasts, or even want to be millers; for example, a farmermight start by milling animal feed and then try making some flour, find that he can sell it, and then expandthat side of his business. A farm worker might then be given the job of running the mill − an indoor jobunappealing to him. He would not have any great interest in milling, and not have read any books, or pay anyattention to the niceties, such as getting exactly the correct fineness of flour. He would probably do littlemore than push buttons on a control panel. All the machinery would most likely have been installed by
contractors; the owner having given orders for this to be done, and left all the details to them. Almostcertainly they would fit a screening machine as a matter of course, and might not even tell the owner aboutthe possibility of removing or changing the size of the screen, and consequently something between 2% and5% would be screened out. The screenings would be the larger particles of bran: they might be re−ground, or,more likely, packaged and sold as bran.
All the above refers to the smaller mills. It is not easy to gain access to the very large mills, and their verysize makes it impossible to understand exactly what is happening unless one is fully acquainted with theprocess and able to go where one wishes and stay there for a considerable time, but all large mills employ thegradual reduction process and are set up to produce white flour. The grain passes through rollers which tear itapart; it is then sieved and the larger particles are passed through rollers again, and then sieved again, and soon numerous times. This is a very simplified explanation but it will suffice here.
The germ and the bran are two items that are separated, and for many years they were sold as animal feed, butmore recently they have been sold to health shops at a far greater price than they fetched as animal feed.
When wheat is put through a modern gradual reduction mill a 1O0lb of wheat grain will produce about 70lbof flour, about 5lb of wheatgerm, and 15 to 2Olb of bran inextricably mixed with flour. The rest is lost in dustand evaporation.
If one of these large mills wishes to sell wholemeal flour without installing separate plant or a subsidiarymill, then the only way they can make it is to take the white flour before it is bleached, and then add back thewheatgerm and the bran in the same proportions as they were originally! One might call this "reconstitutedwholemeal", and there would seem to be no reason why it should not be as good as real wholemeal. However,as the germ can be sold at a high price and amounts to only about 2%, and a blind eye is turned to a missingpercentage.? Furthermore, caramel is one of the few additives that can be legally added towholemeal flour. Now the main purpose of adding caramel is to make the flour browner in colour, but thewheatgerm and bran makes the flour that colour anyhow, so unless something is missing there would seem nopurpose in adding caramel − it is not a very desirable additive anyhow (see later). If millers can be persuadedto talk they can reveal instances where the re−constitution has been only partial and there have beencomplaints when it has been discovered.of course it has always happened at some mill other than theirown. Heat is generated when flour is ground, and some of the moisture in the grain is lost in evaporation. Itfollows therefore that 100lb of wheat will not produce EXACTLY 1OOlb of flour, but this slight loss is quitea different matter to that caused by deliberate screening or only partial reconstitution.
ROLLER GROUND OR STONEGROUND?
The term used by millers for turning grain into flour or meal is "reduction".There are three basic methods ofreduction:
Grinding − between stones or any abrasive surface.
Attrition − by hitting the wheat with revolving metal "hammers".
Rolling − tearing the grains apart.
There is nothing intrinsically "better" about flour produced by one method than another, but remember thatthe rollers are part of the gradual reduction process which has just been considered, and their wholemeal istherefore reconstituted.
One sometimes reads about roller mills producing excessive heat in the flour and that this is somehowdetrimental to it. Perhaps this was true in the very early days of roller milling, but it is unlikely to be true nowbecause the whole purpose of the gradual reduction process is to be gradual. However, sometimes there are
mistakes and the rollers are set too close together or the grain is fed in too fast. The starch quality is thendestroyed. If a loaf is made with such a flour and is turned out of a tin it will be found to have almostrazor−sharp corners.
There is one curious theory which states that flour ground on a stonemill which is enclosed in wood is"better" than flour which has touched metal and been electrically earthed.
WHITE, BROWN, AND WHOLEMEAL.
Brown flour legally has to have at least O.6% crude fibre in it, and this is contained in the bran, but legally nowheatgerm has to be present. Here again we come up against what might be called "real brown" and "brown".
As we have seen, if brown flour is made by the gradual reduction process the wheatgerm will not be presentbecause it has been taken out and there is no legal obligation to return it; therefore most "brown" flour hascaramel added to it to colour it. However, if the flour is produced in a small mill that does not use the gradualreduction process, it would be wholemeal with some of the bran removed but still with most of the germ stillin it − "real" brown flour.
White flour is bleached white (see later), but in some shops it is possible to purchase unbleached white flour,and the packet will then be marked "unbleached". Herein, whenever white flour is mentioned it must beunderstood that the reference is to bleached flour. White flour, whether bleached or not, has much taken outof it. The following list shows percentage losses over wholemeal. Taken from Issue No 24. May 1971 of theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition (H. Schroeder).
Now that chemicals are being considered, and before any more mention is made of them, it is necessary tounderstand something about the Science of Chemistry. Do not worry. There are not going to be pages ofchemical formulae!
Many people − probably MOST people, have no knowledge of chemistry, and their concept of it is limited tothat gained by visiting the local chemist's shop and perhaps seeing a white−coated compounder in thedistance. This mysterious person can sometimes be seen handling clearly labelled jars and bottles and mixingtheir contents together in minute amounts. Obviously everything is precise and correct, and accurate.
However, the SCIENCE of chemistry is not like that at all!
Like other sciences, new discoveries and new knowledge is being gained almost daily; old ideas and conceptsare superseded as more information is acquired. Because chemistry is a continually developing science, newdiscoveries are frequently made that render names obsolete. For example; Vitamin Bx is the obsolete namefor para−amino benzoic acid. These changes in nomenclature make it very difficult for the interested butchemically−ignorant layman to understand written information. Sometimes there are 3 or 4 different namesused to describe the same thing, and of course, the older books use the older names. Unfortunately some ofthe newer books also persist in using the old names! Further confusion is caused by the use of "blanket"names, for example; Nitrogen, which is, of course, a gas, but in nutrition all nitrogen−containing substancesare loosely referred to as "nitrogen".(DNFT p154)
Also there are no International standards of analysis − or even National ones. For example, there are threemethods of calculating the calorific content of food. (C.O.F. P177). There are further differences betweenmethods used in the U.K. and the U.S.A. Whereas the results obtained by the three methods of calculating thecalorific content only differ from each other by a small amount, when it comes to measuring the FIBREcontent of bran there is an enormous difference between the two methods currently used in analysis. In factthe analysts cannot even agree on the name of the product for which they are searching! By the most accuratemethod it is found that wholemeal flour has about 9.6 grams of DIETARY fibre per 1OO grams. By the"official" method as used by public analyst, and as defined in the Regulations, wholemeal has only 2.2 gramsof CRUDE fibre per 1OO grams. The "official" method is much quicker, but underestimates most of thedifferent components.
This confusing state is not helped when mistakes are made by those whom one would expect to know better.
When a new factor was discovered that was claimed to be essential for chick growth, the claimant stated thatas nine factors of the B vitamin were already known the new factors should be called vitamins B1O and B11.
In fact the B vitamins had been numbered only up to B6; and B7, B8 and B9 had never existed! (DNFT p232)
It obviously follows from the above that the confusion becomes greater when one considers all these matterson an International basis. Although there are International agreements on nomenclature, these are not alwaysfollowed. An example is Nicotinic Acid,− which is sometimes still called by its old name of Vitamin PP(pellagra−preventative); Nicotinic acid's amide, nicotinamide, has the same biological function, and both areknown according to International agreement as Niacin. However in the U.S.A. the old designations Niacinand Niacinamide for Nicotinic acid and it's amide are still used. (DNFT P121).
There always seems to be someone to contradict someone else! A note at the commencement of that greatwork of reference, "The Composition of Foods" acknowledges this state of affairs by stating that advice andhelp were received from many sources − much of it contradictory.
After this explanation the reader must think Chemistry is all very confusing, but this is as nothing to theconfusion we shall find further on! However, we shall try to make sense out of chaos, and this is a good placeto learn about the system of E numbers which has been devised to make things simpler.and we knowby now what that means!
Additives that have been agreed by the EEC as safe have been given E numbers, and these can then be usedfor labelling and other purposes instead of listing out the chemicals with their full names. The fact that some
chemicals have E numbers does not mean that ONLY the additives which have been given a number may beused: there are many additives used − different ones by different countries − that do not have E numbers.
The list is constantly under review. Other additives have numbers, which are contained in square brackets;these are additives that the EEC are examining to see if they might qualify for an E number (sometimes thesquare brackets are omitted!); Caramel is one of these, yet it is commonly used in flour. Incidentally caramelis also one of those items deemed to upset hyperactive children, as is also E220 which is in common use.
Confused? Read on. There are some E numbers in use that have not been accepted by othercountries.including Britain. (EN p4)
The E system is a good and much needed idea, but has proved impractical in its application in its presentform.
All food made after 1 Jan 1986 must bear the E number or the actual name of the additives. Words such as"permitted colouring" are illegal. However, the words "permitted flavouring" is still be allowed. no one islikely to use the words "unpermitted flavouring"! There are no regulations agreed by the E.E.C. regarding thecomposition of flavours, although five are banned in the U.K. (EN)
There are certain compulsory additives that must be legally added to "enrich" flour in
Britain. The impression given is that this is some wonderful gesture by the Government to give us betterflour. but more revelations now.
There are four things that must be compulsorily added to all flour other than wholemeal; collectively they arecalled "nutrients".
CALCIUM. (Creta preparata).
It was decided that Calcium ("Chalk") should be added to British wartime bread after an outbreak of ricketsin Dublin in 194O. At that time it was thought that a drop in calcium intake caused by the rationing of normalcalcium−rich foods such as milk and cheese would cause more children to develop rickets, and some adults todevelop the bone disease, osteomalacia. Since then it has been found that vitamin D deficiency is more likelyto be the major cause of these two diseases. Dr Widdowson, whose research played an influential role in thewartime enrichment policy, summed up the situation thus:− "When Calcium was added to flour originally,there were reasons for doing so, but these reasons have now gone". (TACC p34). Nevertheless it is stillcompulsory for Calcium to be added to all flour other than wholemeal. The amount that must be added is sogreat (see overleaf) that there is LESS Calcium in Wholemeal flour than in other flours. On the other hand,Calcium propionate, which is a commonly used (non−compulsory) additive, destroys the enzymes thatenables the body to utilise the calcium in white bread. Back to square one!
Iron is added in the belief that the incidence of anaemia due to iron deficiency will be reduced. However,recent research has shown that not only is this useless as a means of reducing anaemia but it is potentiallyharmful (SWEB p4). Moreover bread enrichment with iron normally takes the form of metallic iron inpowdered or reduced states. Neither form is well absorbed by humans; if the body could use inorganic iron,then drinking water containing iron rust from a rusty pipe should help build red blood cells in anaemicconditions, but we know that this is not so (SWEB p3). As a matter of interest, the amount of iron in a humanbody is less than that in a small nail.(TACC p3)
THIAMIN. (Vitamin B1).
Although Thiamin must be added, about half of it is destroyed by the baking process because syntheticthiamine is heat sensitive! (TACC p4)
NICOTINIC ACID OR NICOTINAMIDE. (Vitamin B2).
This is another synthetic vitamin, and these SYNTHETIC vitamins cannot be used by the body as naturalvitamins are used. Synthetic vitamins are coal tar products, and some coal tar products are suspected of beingcancer producing (SWEB P3). However, as so often, there is a contrary opinion that states, "there is nodifference between the physiological affects of a synthetic and a naturally occurring vitamin, they arebiologically and chemically identical". (MCC p428)
It must be obvious to the reader by now that logic has little bearing either to the matter under considerationor, regrettably, to anything that follows! However, so conditioned are we to logic that one assumes that ifcertain items are extracted from flour, and if it is considered necessary to put some of these back, then surelyas much would be put back as was taken out. Oh no! The following table clearly shows that the quantity ofeach additive is only about half the quantity naturally found in wholemeal flour; except in the case ofCalcium which, as we have just seen, has its own special illogicality! (COF p38)
Milligrams per 100 grams.
Amount to be
So the "enrichment" (another word used is "fortification") of flour certainly does not anywhere near bring itup to the standard of wholemeal. Over twenty vitamin and mineral elements are greatly reduced when wheatis turned into white flour, only three or four are added back, and only in small amounts. Moreover what isadded back is either synthetic or inorganic, and is considered by some to be positively harmful though.
If this is indeed the true situation then why must these additives be put into non−wholemeal flour? "Thewhole history of the 'enrichment' program shows abject subservience of government nutritionists to thepressure of big business".(SWEB P6). On 18th July 194O Mr (later Lord) Boothby stated that the Ministry ofFood proposed to add synthetic vitamin B1 to bread. This was most curious: Governments had oftenlegislated about bread, but never before with the ostensible object of enriching it. Mr Boothby went on to say"Many Hon. Members know that.I was chairman of a company which manufactured these vitamins.
I.resigned my seat on the board immediately I was appointed Parliamentary Secretary".(ODB P17).
However, he did not go on to say that he had renounced a directorship or disposed of his shares!
The scientists seem to form two camps, the "extract and then add" group, and the "keep the flour whole" side.
In the E.E.C. only Denmark, apart from the U.K., makes enrichment with nutrients compulsory. In fact, mostwest European countries forbid the replacement of nutrients. (TACC p78).
There are many other additives that are not compulsory but that are optionally permitted; but before these areconsidered it is necessary to learn something about the baking industry.
THE BAKING INDUSTRY.
Although, of course, some small and medium sized bakeries still exist, most of to−day's bread is produced inlarge bread factories. Few people have any idea of the process involved, so here we will take a look at thesubject, and gain an insight into why the mass−produced bread is so tasteless.
For centuries bread has been made by fermentation, which has taken something between five andtwenty−four hours. It is not generally known that during this time there also occurs a modification in thegluten structure of the dough which makes it capable of stretching. This is known as DOUGHDEVELOPMENT.
It is only in the last sixty years or so that the availability of fresh yeast has enabled the fermenting time to begreatly reduced. Since then, various attempts have been made to bring about the rapid DEVELOPMENT ofthe dough by mechanical means. For many years the large bakers' dream has been a machine which wouldspew forth a continuous stream of dough which would then be entirely automatically baked, sliced andwrapped. Such a machine did indeed become available − the Oakes Continuous Mixer. The dream was thusfulfilled, but in actual practice it has been found that in many cases it is more suitable to have a system thatproduces "batches" of dough in rapid succession than one continuous stream. The batch system enables thedough mix to be changed more easily than in a continuous system, and also enables the process to be stoppedshould any of the succeeding stages develop a mechanical fault. One can imagine the chaos if a continuousstream of dough is issuing whilst the rest of the production line is out of action! Moreover a batch system canbe varied in size to suit smaller bakers and those who are not able to afford the enormous cost of a continuoussystem.
Research on mechanical dough development had taken place, rather spasmodically, over several decades, butno satisfactory commercial progress was made until the British Baking Industries Research Association atChorley Wood really made a serious concerted attempt at solving the matter, and finally succeeded. It was atthe London Bakery Exhibition of 1963 that the Chorley Wood Bread Process was accepted by the bakingindustry, and the large bread factories as we now know them came into being. By 1972 80% of British Breadwas made by the Chorley Wood Bread Process. Known as CBP.
The CBP consists of very high speed mixing combined with meticulously accurate timing. The ingredientsthemselves must also be meticulously accurate in their chemical consistency and quantity. Some idea of thecare needed can be gained from the fact that the timing of the mixing process must be accurate to withinabout two seconds. Other requirements are a specified level of an oxidising agent; a critical minimum level ofa correctly constituted fat; and a partial vacuum in the mixer. The mixer is run for only about 3 minutes, andbecause the dough development cycle is so very short the rate of water absorption by the flour must beprecise and vary as little as possible. The chemical composition of the flour in other respects must also beprecisely correct, and this why "any old flour" plays havoc with C.B.P. systems.
The advantages of the C.B.P. are that the conventional mixing and bulk fermentation stage is replaced by ashort period of intensive mixing. The mixing only lasts about 3 minutes as compared with the conventional20 minutes. After mixing, the dough can be immediately divided instead of being left to stand and ferment,and a great amount of floor area is thereby saved. Another great advantage is that the dough can absorb morewater, and water is cheaper than flour. The conventional system uses about 14 to 16 gallons of water to every280lb of flour; the C.B.P. uses 17 to 18 gallons of water to the same amount of flour; so from 60% to 63% ofthe mix is water.(BMR p99). This is higher than the permitted limit in the U.S.A. or Australia. In Britainthere is no legislation covering the water content of bread, so there is no need to reveal it to the customer.
(EYB p126). The operators of the C.B.P. do not consider excessive water detrimental to the quality of thebread (well, they wouldn't would they?), but luckily for the customer the use of too much water causesstick−ups on the plant. (BMR p171).
A further advantage of the C.B.P. is that as there is no bulk fermentation less flour solids are lost in the formof gas and alcohol. (MCC p26).
Another advantage to the baker is that the C.B.P. enables the percentage of strong, and hence expensive,wheat to be reduced. This has become an important factor now that the E.E.C. agricultural policy has putsevere economic pressure on British millers to use E.E.C. wheat. (BMR p99).
A great deal of research went into perfecting the C.B.P.; not only had the machines to be designed, butsuitable oxidants and new yeasts had to be discovered because the C.B.P. imposes conditions upon yeastwhich are quite different to that obtaining in the normal 3−4 hour bulk fermentation process. (BMR p103)
From the above brief description one can appreciate that the new process meant that bakers had to becomeFAR more accurate in their measurements, and much more consistent with the chemical constitution of theiringredients. Also they had to have reliable automatic controls for the whole process, for with batchesbecoming ready at approximately 5 minute intervals (depending upon the size of the mixer installed) it isessential that all the subsequent stages be precisely timed. This is necessary not only for producing anacceptable loaf, but to keep all stages of what has now become a production line in step with one another.
The sequence of events in a full scale C.B.P. is:−Mix (2 − 3 mins).Divide the dough (and check weigh somepieces).Pass dough through a Conical Moulder. This gives individual dough pieces some semblance of crumbdirection, and helps put them into a shape that can be easily handled by the final moulder. Put dough into firstprover for 6 to 8 minutes − previously this used to take about 20 minutes. Pass dough through final moulderwhere the finished texture and cell formation of the loaf are created, and the dough is placed in tins. The Finalproof takes between 45 and 59 minutes. Baking takes place in a continuous oven, the bread moving slowlythrough it for 26 to 40 minutes. Automatic de−panning then occurs. Cooling has to follow the baking, andthis normally takes at least two hours and forty minutes. The final stage is slicing and wrapping.
The simple bakery has thus become an enormously costly production line − there are many other things to besynchronised that have not been mentioned above. Smaller bakers do not need to install the complete system,they can purchase the high−speed mixer in a range of sizes from one to mix only ten pounds of ingredients tothe large machines which mix 660lbs in a few minutes. With the smaller mixers it is possible to use lesssophisticated ancillary machinery; this enables smaller bakers to change from the traditional methods to theCBP, the high cost of the machinery being offset by the saving in time, space, and the increased amount ofwater that can be used. Bakeries that use the CBP are usually called "plant" bakeries.
About 70% of bread in Britain is made by the very large bakeries. The remaining 30% is produced by about100 large−scale plant bakeries and some 6000 (non−plant) "master bakers" − this rather grandiose titlemerely means that they employ less than eight people! (TACC p54)
It is now possible to begin to appreciate why the white sliced, wrapped loaf has been described as "cottonwool" and "plastic" bread. It is established beyond doubt that the high rate and level of work input of theC.B.P. profoundly effects the wheat gluten network when compared with a dough mixed on a conventionalmachine. (BMR p69) It would not be inaccurate to state that the actual chemical composition is altered.
Various chemicals are also added to a flour which has not only been bleached but has lost all its germ andmost of its bran. Moreover, the bread has a higher water content and a lower protein content (due to the use ofweaker wheat) than "old−fashioned" bread.
In spite of the enormous amount of research into bread and flour, there are some things that the chemists havebeen quite unable to solve. There are some flours that give satisfactory bread from a recipe containing noadded fats. Similarly there are flours which seem to require excessively high levels of fat to obtainsatisfactory bread, and even then the optimum loaf is of poor quality. None of the usual chemical or physicaltests seem to pick out any difference between these flours and normal flour, nor are these flours from any
particular wheat variety. (BMR p64).
We have already considered the so−called "enrichment" of flour by compulsory additives, so the readershould not be at all surprised to learn that some of the permitted additives are called "improvers".
When freshly milled flour (other than wholemeal) (MBR p174) is stored for several weeks it undergoes anaging effect and produces a stronger and more resilient dough and a bolder loaf: it "improves", and slowlybleaches. Chemical agents can produce these effects instantly. Some will only bleach, some will bleach andimprove, and yet others will only improve.(DNFT p9)
However many times flour is sieved and rolled in the large mills it is still not white enough for the marketingmen, so it is bleached to produce "whiter than white" flour. Various chemicals have been used over the yearsfor bleaching flour. Whenever the safety of these chemicals was queried many eminent scientists stated thatthey were not dangerous, yet nevertheless, they have been made illegal by the committes appointed to enquireinto the matter. An outstanding law case concerned the bleaching of flour by means of traces of NitrogenPeroxide. The court learned from a parade of 'experts' that there was no deleterious action to the flour, andthat rainwater contained 7O times the quantity that was in bleached flour, that Ham contained 5OO times thatamount, and that even human saliva contained 13 times as much. In spite of this evidence, Nitrogen Peroxideis now no longer used for bleaching!
Perhaps even more curious is the case of Nitrogen Trichloride, commonly called Agene, that was used as ableaching agent for many years, the Committee investigating its use once again indulged in double−talk. "TheCommittee has been unable to find any evidence that agenised flour is in any way toxic to man.
Nevertheless.the Committee feel that the use of Agene should be discontinued"! (MCC p108).
One cannot but wonder whether those listening to the scientists knew in their hearts that the information thatthey were being given was not accurate. It is obvious that much goes on behind the scenes, and the onlyconclusion that a layman can draw is that it is never wise to believe any statement about additives beingharmless.
As long ago as 1927 the Departmental Committee on the Treatment of Flour with Chemical Substances gavea warning against the use of Chlorine Dioxide. (RSH Vol5 1957). The Bread Flour Regulations 196Oconfirmed this view by reccomending that only one bleaching agent be used − Benzoyl Peroxide (at no morethan 5Oppm), which is a powder. Behind−the−scenes intrigue and duplicity continues, for in spite of theserecomendations, the 1984 Regulations also permit the use of Chlorine and Chlorine dioxide, which is a gas.
It is not the intention to delve deeply into chemistry, so the permitted additives have been listed underdifferent functional headings although many chemicals perform more than one function. Not all additives arepermitted in ALL types of flour and bread, many are restricted to specific uses, for example Rye bread, orsoda bread only. Some may not be used in conjunction with others. Many of them have restrictions on thequantity that may be used. For more information see The Bread and Flour Regulations 1984. All theseadditives are expensive and have their specific uses which can radically affect the finished product, so there isno point in the baker adding more than the necessary amount.
There is little purpose in giving the full list of additives under their broad headings until one knows whatthese headings mean; so now the headings are considered one by one, and finally the full list is given.
Improving does not refer to improving the taste or improving the nutritional quality of the flour, but toimproving its behaviour when made into dough by machines. Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C) is the only improverpermitted by all the original common market countries with the exception of Holland, where five bleachersand improvers are allowed. With our 8 or so (depending how they are classified), improvers and bleachingchemicals we are still well ahead − or behind.(EYB p57) Benzoyl peroxide, which is a commonly usedbleach, is often given the more innocent−sounding title of a "colour control" (UDB p137), and it onlybleaches, whereas Chlorine dioxide bleaches and also improves, and Potassium bromate is an improver, butdoes not bleach.
Although improvers had been used optionally by bakers for some years, they are as an essential an ingredientof the C.B.P. as oxidants. They also stabilise the gas cells so that they can withstand the pressures generatedduring proving and baking. The detailed chemical reaction caused by the addition of improvers is a highlycomplex subject.
These produce a stable, stronger, more elastic gluten network capable of expanding without rupture. They arelisted under Improvers. Vital for CBP.
EMULSIFIERS EMULSIFYING SALTS.
These help to bring together oil(fat) and water so that they do not separate out into layers as they would dowithout emulsifiers.
Self−raising flour contains ingredients that generate Carbon Dioxide when mixed into a dough and baked.
Since there is no yeast fermentation, nor usually much time involved, there is neither ripening of the doughnor mellowing of the gluten; the characteristics of flour used for self−raising flour are therefore differentfrom that of normal (plain) flour.(MCC p368).
These are used in bread for which a slimming claim is made, they "pad out" without adding to the calorific orenergy value of food.
There is not enough sugar in flour for yeast to feed upon, so more must be added in one form or another.
Rope is a micro−organism named Baccillus mesentericus, and is present in all bakery materials to someextent. Rope spores are very common and widely distributed in soil. They can survive the baking process,and can start to grow when temperature has returned to the ambient one. Modern hygiene and increasedscientific knowledge has resulted in spore counts being a fraction of those which prevailed 25 years ago; it isonly when conditions are particularly suitable for the rapid multiplication of rope spores that an infestation islikely to occur; for example, holding the bread at a high temperature in a humid atmosphere whilst it is beingslowly cooled.(UDB p10). In extreme instances, almost the whole of the middle of an infected loaf may
become a sticky semi−fluid mass of a brownish colour with an unpleasant smell. If the crumb is then touchedwith any article it can be pulled out in long threads or "ropes". (MCC p533).
There are a vast number of moulds that grow on bread; they are of many colours, black, white, green, pink, orbrown. Modern hygiene has reduced their infestation. A rare, but nevertheless interesting form ofcontamination, is due to Erythrobacillus prodigiosus. Certain virulent but rare strains are capable of turningbread blood red in about 24 hours. The bread thus infected is called "bleeding bread".
Calcium propionate is a commonly used mould inhibitor, but it also destroys the enzyme that enables thebody to utilize the Calcium in white bread (SWEB p5)
Although mould and rope inhibitors are also, of course, preservatives, others are also added.
Buffers are chemical substances which can resist considerable changes in the acid/alkali balance of solutions:the scale along which these are measured is called the pH. Buffers maintain the pH at a predetermined leveldespite the addition of further acid or alkali.
DIASTATIC ENZYMES (Amylases).
An enzyme is a biological material which helps a chemical change take place, but which remains unchangedat the end of the reaction. (BMR p107) Starch consists of many sugar units joined together in chains; it isnaturally present in grain in order to provide a food supply for the growing plant during germination, and isbroken down to sugar for this purpose by the diastatic group of enzymes which are called Amylases.
There are in fact two kinds of Amylase − alpha and beta. There is always adequate beta−amylase, but thealpha−amylase may be insufficient to produce enough sugar. The amount of alpha−amylase present inuntreated flour depends on the extent of germination of the wheat during harvesting. (UDB p29).
Australian wheat, and also some American and Russian, is liable to have a shortage of cereal amylase;however, more and more E.E.C. wheat is now used in Britain, and this has rather an EXCESS of cerealamylase − there are no chemicals yet available to counteract this.
Proteinase is the old name for Endo−peptidases (DONF p181) but as many books have the old name it is aswell to keep to it here.
There are enzymes present in flour that are capable of attacking proteins though they themselves are alsoproteins; they are referred to as Proteases. There are two types, Proteinases that hydrolise true proteins, andpeptidases that act on protein decomposition products.(MCC p280) Proteases have a mellowing effect ondough.
Yeast not only produces gas for the aerating of dough, it also plays a part in dough ripeness. Baking powder,when used in conjunction with an acid, also produces gas but it has no such ripening powers. In Ireland,which has a very wet climate and where mainly soft wheat is grown, much of the bread is aerated by meansof baking powder (baking soda), and is known as soda bread. Technically this is called "chemically aeratedbread".
Crumb softeners are also emulsifiers, and assist in retarding crumb firming by inhibiting the release of waterfrom soluble starch. The benefits of using them are: Increased volume of bread; A moister softer crumb; afiner, whiter crumb. (UDB p71)
THE LIST OF PERMITTED ADDITIVES.
The letters F and B after a chemical indicate whether it is permitted in flour or in bread. Many of thesechemicals may be purchased ready−compounded and under proprietary names, for example "Ambirex"consists of yeast foods, oxidant, fat, and soya flour in correct proportions. The formulae are kept secret by themanufacturers, and bakers buy them on the strength of their known performance, not on their (oftenunknown) chemical constituents.
PRESERVATIVE BUFFER (Rye).
RAISING AGENTS.(For self−raising flour).
l−(+)−tartrate (Cream of Tartar). (F
RAISING AGENT EMULSIFIER.
BULKING AGENTS. (For bread for which a slimming
claim is made).
of mono− and diglycerides of fattyacids (B)
EMULSIFIER YEAST FOOD etc.
CRUMB SOFTENERS EMULSIFIERS.
RAISING AGENTS FOR SODA BREAD.
AERATOR. (for aerated bread).
It is not possible to consider all these items individually − there would be page after page of contraryopinions!
A number of less "chemical" additives may also be added to bread and flour, some are limited as to theamount that may be added.:Milk and egg products.Liquid or dried egg.Rice Flour.Cracked oat grain, oatmeal,oat flakes.Soya bean flourSalt.Vinegar.Oils and fats.Malt extract.Malt flour.Any soluble carbohydratesweetening matter.Prepared wheat Gluten.Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds.Cracked wheat, crackedor kibbled malted wheat, flaked malted wheat, kibbled malted Rye. Cracked or kibbled malted barley.Starchother than modified starch (high amylose starch).
SOYA BEAN OIL.
Soya bean oil includes approx' 4% of the natural emulsifier Lecithin. The protein and oil fractions pluslecithin combine to improve the quality of the crumb of the baked loaf, giving it an increased softness andresilience − a soft but not soggy feel when compressed by hand. (BMR p108)
Saffron is composed of dried stigmas of cultivated crocuses; they add colour and flavour. (UDB p72)
This is strictly not a seed but a fruit.
Malt can only be used successfully with care and understanding. It can be a bread improver only when it isnecessary to make up a diastatic deficiency in flour. The exception, of course, is malt bread when it is anessential ingredient. (UDB p66)
All the additives that have been mentioned are listed in the Bread and Food Regulations 1984. It is interestingto note that the Regulations do not apply to a certain part of the population − Her Majesty's forces or visiting
forces. There is no explanation given for this.
Deliberately no attempt has been made herein to come to a conclusion as to whether additives are "good" or"bad". It is perfectly easy to produce quotes from scientific sources in favour of both viewpoints. Once onestarts to examine the additives in detail one becomes bogged down (and this is a good metaphor) by thesubdivision of that chemical into smaller and smaller components, and by contrary viewpoints on everysingle item.
Organic foods are those grown with the minimum of artificial fertilisers and chemical sprays. However, thereis no Standard or Regulation affecting the use of the word "organic". Scientists are not in agreement over howlong it takes soil to become organic if it has previously been been chemicalised − some say five years, otherssay twenty years.
Grain is usually treated with chemicals before being sown, but whether this is so for organic crops is onlyknown to the farmer.The natural manures used instead of chemical fertilisers may have come from cattle thathave been injected with chemicals. Some of the organic wheat is grown in fields adjacent to fields which donot have organic crops and which might be sprayed from the air. There is always the risk of drifting spray.
A statement is usually made on the packet when it contains flour milled from organic wheat. Sometimes theorganic wheat has been mixed with imported hard wheat that is not organic. Often no mention of this willappear on the packet.(EBYC p51).
If buying organic flour one can only hope that everyone concerned with its production has been honest andconscientious. Those of you who have read this far will realise that such people are few and far between.
SWEB − Shall we eat bread? Article "The Chemical Contamination of Bread" by R.W.Bernard (A.B., M.A.,Ph.D) Published by Health Research.Mokelumne Hill. California. U.S.A.
ODB − Our Daily Bread. Published by BSSRS, 9 Poland Street, London.
DFF − Don't forget the Fibre in your diet. By Denis Burkitt.
EBYC − English bread and yeast cookery. By Elizabeth David. Published by Allen Lane. 1978.
UDB − Up to date breadmaking. By W.J.Fance and B.H.Wragg. 1968
DNFT − Dictionary of Nutrition Food Technology. 4th Edition. By Arnold E.Bender. Published byNewnes−Butterworths.
MCC. − Modern Cereal Chemistry. 6th Edition. By Kent−Jones Amos. 1968.
DON. − Dictionary of Nutrition. By Sheila Bingham. 1977.
TACC.− Bread, an assessment of the bread industry in Britain. TACC. Intermediate Publishing Ltd. 1974.
BMR. − Breadmaking − the modern revolution. By A Williams. Hutchinson Benham Ltd. 1975
COF. − The Composition of Foods. By A.A.Paul D.A.T.Southgate. 4th revised edition 1978. H.M.S.O.
RSH. − Journal of the Royal Society for Health.
Copyright C.Lovell. Hele Mill. 1994. 4th revised edition 1978.
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