What You Need to Know About Flour and Commercially Prepared Breads: A Review

MY FLOUR OF CHOICE: unbleached & unbromated

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Disclaimer

For the sake of those who may read this that are experts in this area: I am not an expert on these chemicals nor am I an expert on the processes that the bread making and baking ingredients endure. I am a homemaker who wants to be aware of ingredients that are in our foods.

There is much more to be said about bleach and bromate in our foods. Please refer to the sources attached to this article as well as many others that are available. The purpose of this article is to raise awareness so you can make an informed decision about ingredients in your foods and those of your family.

As the cook in the home, you may be the one who selects the flour that will be used for baking and cooking. That, on the surface, may seem like a no-brainer. “Go to the store, grab a bag of flour, check out, and off to bake or whip up a sauce, cake, pie, bread or other culinary delight." If it were that easy there would be no need for this article.

As for my experience with baking it has been over a period of forty years but only just within the last six months I have begun to make bread from scratch. I had tried in the past but all attempts were unsuccessful.

This new interest in baking has lead me to discover facts about flour and commercially prepared breads that I did not know. The purpose of this article is to share this information and give you the opportunity to make in reference to flour and store bought breads including boxed products that contain flour.

The intent of this review is to inform not to frighten or scare or be the little chicken who informed all..."the sky is falling, the sky is falling." I wish I had known this information sooner but it is not widely published. You have to know about it to know you need to look for it.

At your local supermarket, health food stores, and organic food stores, there are many kinds of flours At specialized markets there are many more. And here on the internet are still more.

The focus of this article is on bromated, bleached, unbromated, and unbleached flour.

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Bleached flour

The explanation for bleaching can be a bit technical but not rocket science. I am attempting to retell what I read at multiple resource sites without overloading you with more than you care to know.

Bleached flour is put through a chlorine gas bath, to put it quite simply, to whiten it and to age the flour. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that "the aging and oxidizing agent that is used is a noxious irritant, unsafe to inhale, and can be lethal." Some agents that are used are oxides of nitrogen, nitrosyl, and benzoyl peroxice mixed with chemical salts. As I am reading this, I am thinking, "Does this sound like something I want in my food?"

And, then I continue to research and find that is not all. As a result of the bleaching process a substance known as alloxan is produced. Again I am thinking this does not sound good. And I am right.

Calcium peroxide

On the loaf of wheat bread my daughter brought over I found that calcium peroxide is listed on the packaging. I had not come across it in my reading so I researched it. It is used as a cleansing agent for flour, among other things. According to most sources, there are no known published reports about dangers associated with its use.

There is a caution to those with asthma or allergies should avoid products that contain it. For more information you can read:


Alloxan remains in the body

While alloxan is not literally added to the flour as a result of the bleaching, it is formed in the flour during the process. This seems to be a way of denying its there while at the same time telling you it is. Without all of the technical information that I came across, I found that alloxan is produced when uric acid decomposes. It is a toxin that is used to cause diabetes in healthy rats and mice in a lab setting. That of course raises a whole new discussion which we will safe for a later time.

So, it causes diabetes in mice and rats. While I am mulling that over, I read on.

As I research further I find that It builds up in our bodies. It does not just pass through. What happens is that it accumulates in our bodies. As a result it can damage DNA in the cells in the pancreas. They will eventually begin to function improperly and die.

This is a sobering thought. For all of these years, we have consumed foods containing these agents and not known that we were doing so. It is not widely advertised. At least I did not know and maybe I missed the meeting where it was announced.

For further clarification you may wish to research for yourself to determine if the loaf of bread or sack of flour in your pantry is something you wish to continue to consume. We at large can make a difference. We can refuse to buy the breads and flours that have been bleached. this applies pretty much across the board to boxed products containing flour as well.

Calcium Peroxide Shown on Packaging of Loaf Bread

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Unbleached flour

Unbleached flour is just what it says no bleaching. The flour is a slightly different color than bleached flour is because it has not been artificially whitened. It is a dull white with a slight yellowish tinge.

Unbleached flour is aged naturally which is one reason it costs more. Rather than being able to be used soon after it is prepared, it takes weeks for the aging process to occur.

As for me personally, I have not noticed any marked differences in preparations using unbleached flour. Some sources report that kneading takes longer however I enjoy the kneading process so really have not noticed the difference. Others report that professional bakers do not like the appearance of the baked goods using unbleached flour. I really have not noticed no difference in this respect either.

Unbleached Flour

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unbleached

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Bleached Flour

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It is kind of difficult to see but unbleached flour has a dull appearance next to the bleached.
It is kind of difficult to see but unbleached flour has a dull appearance next to the bleached. | Source

All purpose flour: labeled "BLEACHED"

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No information about bleaching or bromates on bags of flour

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Comparing bleached & unbleached flour
BLEACHED
UNBLEACHED
COLOR
white
dull white, yellowish
BLEACH USED
Bleaching chemicals such as organic peroxides, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or azodicarbonmide
natural aging
NUTRITIOUS CONTENT
Less vitamin E. Rest of the nutrition i.e. calories, fats, fiber, proteins, calcium and iron are about the same.
More vitamin E. Rest of the nutrition i.e. calories, fats, fiber, proteins, calcium and iron are about the same.
TEXTURE OF DOUGH
more elastic and pliable dough
takes longer in the kneading process

Bromated flour

Flour that is bromated is enriched with potassium bromate which enhances formation of gluten in dough. It is used by some commercial bakers because the dough becomes stronger and more elastic. This is important commercial bakers who mix and make huge quantities of baked goods using flour which requires industrial strength machines.

So that is good right? Stronger more elastic dough? Not really, not when you discover potassium bromate is a carcinogen. Theoretically, it is supposed to bake out during cooking. As for me, I am not a gambler so much. When there is an alternative, I will use that.

Now, it is stated that it has not shown to be hazardous when in baked goods but has produced tumors primarily in the kidneys in lab rats when given orally. I find that a bit troublesome. So somewhere down the road someone develops kidney cancer will they trace it back to potassium bromate??

Potassium bromate has been outlawed in some countries throughout the world. According to some sources I read, the FDA has discouraged its use in the United States.

Again, I am not trying to be that little chicken who keeps running around spouting out horrible things to come. I discovered this information quite by accident and just want to pass it along to my readers.

Ascorbic acid has been used my many flour producers in place of potassium bromate.

 
unbleached
unbleached unbromated
white & wheat
kingarhtur.com
Amazon.com
 
amazon.com
Bobsredmill.com
 
ebay.com
 
 
Publix
 
 
Walmart
 
 
Target
 
 
kingarthur.com
 
You may find these products locally at health food stoers, organic food stores, or other speciality shops.

Flour prices

Price Comparions
all purpose
unbleached
unbleached, unbromated
white
$1.59
$3.24 to $8.40 (not always available)
$$3.65-$5.10
whole wheat
$4.95
$4.95
$8.99
 
 
 
 
Clearly there is a large price variaton from all purpose to bleached, unbleached, unbromated flours.

Final thoughts

As was stated at the beginning of this article, I am not an expert on the use of bleach and the used of potassium bromate as it relates to food. All I have attempted to to do in this review is report what I found.

From what I read my conclusion is that I will select unbleached, unbromated flour henceforth. And, I will refrain from buying loaves of bread unless the labeling reads unbleached, unbromated .The flour I just finished using had been labeled unbleached and unbromated. I have not seen any bread labeled that way yet but am sending off letters to the major companies that manufacture and or produce foods with high flour content. My request is that they will provide for us foods without ingredients that are potentially life threatening to us, the consumers.

If and when I hear from them, I will update this article. I hope you will mull over what is presented, do your own research, and draw your own conclusions.


copyright 2011-2012 pstraubie48 TM All Rights Reserved


copyright 2011-2012 pstraubie48 TM All Rights Reserved

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Comments 24 comments

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Good afternoon alifeofdesign...

You are so right. I think we have trusted others to take care of us for too long. As you know, knowledge is power. the more we know, the more we can take care of our families and ourselves.

Thank you for stopping by and tell your friends about this news.

:) ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Good afternoon alifeofdesign...

You are so right. I think we have trusted others to take care of us for too long. As you know, knowledge is power. the more we know, the more we can take care of our families and ourselves.

Thank you for stopping by and tell your friends about this news.

:) ps


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 3 years ago from New Hamphire

Great food item to shed a spotlight on! I don't think that people are aware of all the 'stuff' that goes into our foods. We have a belief that if the FDA allows these foods on the shelves, "it must be okay for me" - NOT TRUE!

I do not trust the FDA personally.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

DDE good morning..Did not know this information until I just happened onto it. I thought everyone would like to know and then could draw their own conclusions. Thank you for stopping by this morning. :) ps


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Voted Up!! A well written hub with very important information


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi rajanjolly...You know, if we ever figure out pricing we will be able to maybe curtail the arbitrary way it is done, won't we?? Who knows what they are thinking...

I was disturbed by this information when I read it too and I wondered how many of us did not know it. That is why I decided to share it. We unknowingly consume so many harmful things every day, if we can control of few of them it will be all the better for us.

So glad to see you stopping by ....Sending Angels your way :) ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi rajanjolly...You know, if we ever figure out pricing we will be able to maybe curtail the arbitrary way it is done, won't we?? Who knows what they are thinking...

I was disturbed by this information when I read it too and I wondered how many of us did not know it. That is why I decided to share it. We unknowingly consume so many harmful things every day, if we can control of few of them it will be all the better for us.

So glad to see you stopping by ....Sending Angels your way :) ps


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

This is some disturbing information to read but useful in that you made us aware of what harmful chemicals we are unknowingly stuffing ourselves with. Thanks for sharing this information.

One thing I fail to understand is the higher pricing for the unbromated whole wheat flour as compared to the bromated one of the same variety.

Voted up, useful and shared!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Jean, Good evening,

That is why I am glad we have so many resources at our fingertips to research and find out for ourselves. I had NO idea about bleached and bromated bread. And as we know, what we don't know can kill us, literally. I bought one of those loaves of bread that you may be speaking of. It was a French loaf and it was precooked a bit. You brought it home and cooked it some more like it was a fresh loaf. O, not a culinary delight. I felt cheated. It was thrown out.

Thanks for stopping by. I will be over to visit soon. Sending Angels your way. :) ps


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

What an interesting and troubling read. I do know that bread doesn't taste as good as it used to, and I know it's not in my imagination. I realize it comes made up in loaves already to bake at the supermarket, and they can't even seem to keep them in the oven long enough so they are not undercooked and doughy. Then to learn how chemical laden the flour is really awful. Thanks for an informative article.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hello, Love...

I agree. I thought the same when I read it. The really scary thing is those same ingredients are in so many of our foods. And the names are artfully disguised so we do not really know. Thank you for stopping by. I will be over to visit soon.


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

There are some scary facts here but being informed is mandatory for me.Thanks for the info.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Mama Kim

My Momma did not have access to it so we did not use it as a child. When I grew up and we moved from the rural part of VA where we lived, I was too busy doing other stuff to notice. She has been gone almost fifteen years ...I wish I could ask her all of the secrets that I may have missed. Lucky you...pass it on. The flour in the home is actually not as troubling as the flours used in commercial baking. We have NO idea what actually is in them. I often wonder if they can say whatever and it ok. Thank you for stopping by. I will be over to visit soon. ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Mama Kim

My Momma did not have access to it so we did not use it as a child. When I grew up and we moved from the rural part of VA where we lived, I was too busy doing other stuff to notice. She has been gone almost fifteen years ...I wish I could ask her all of the secrets that I may have missed. Lucky you...pass it on. The flour in the home is actually not as troubling as the flours used in commercial baking. We have NO idea what actually is in them. I often wonder if they can say whatever and it ok. Thank you for stopping by. I will be over to visit soon. ps


Mama Kim 8 profile image

Mama Kim 8 4 years ago

My mom always insisted on unbleached flour... and I just continued that ^_^ Thank you mom! lol. Great hub and a wonderful reminder to be aware of what's in our food! Voting up and useful!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Good afternoon Moonlake.

So many times I have done the same thing. But after I read about the bleach and the bromate I made a decision to pay a little more. Thank you for stopping by....ps


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Great information. I looked right at the unbleached flour the other day in the store and instead picked the bleached. I won't do that again after reading your hub. Voted up and shared.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Eddy I just wanted to pass it along. Ihope it ihelpful. Glad to see you this morning. ps. :)


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

So interesting and well informed so thank you for sharing.

Eddy.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Thanks. I too had no knowledge of this information until browsing through recipes one day. Seeing unbleached and unbromated I became curious. I looked it up and this is what I found. I thought others may wish to know. Thank you for stopping by.. ps


bridalletter profile image

bridalletter 4 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

This is a great benefit for cooks. I will have to add your link to my food blog. Great hub. I would never have that about reviewing flour.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Thank you, Billy

I really did only happen upon this information and found it to be something I thought you all needed to know. The things we do not know about our foods can make us sick... happy election eve... ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Thank you, Billy

I really did only happen upon this information and found it to be something I thought you all needed to know. The things we do not know about our foods can make us sick... happy election eve... ps


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

PS, I simply don't have the time to do my own research. I count on people like you, who I trust, to do it for me. Thanks for a great review and I am now sold on unbleached flour. :)

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