- Food and Cooking
What's In Your White Bread?
Have you read the ingredients list on the back of your favorite loaf of white bread lately? If you haven't, perhaps you should: That gorgeous, fluffy, fine-crumbed, perfectly white loaf of bread you buy may contain a bit more than you bargained for, such as fertilizers, plastic, harmful acids, indigestible oils, and even cancer-causing chemicals.
Below is a sampling of ingredients from one such bread. I cannot reveal the brand, but it is readily available, fragrant, affordable - and potentially dangerous to your health.
Potassium bromate, anyone?
This chemical compound was originally made for fertilizers. It's created by treating phosphate rock with phosphoric or sulfuric acid. In breads and other baked goods, monocalcium phosphate acts as a leavening agent that helps your favorite breads, cupcakes, and cakes to rise higher so it looks like you're getting more product for your money. Sounds delicious, doesn't it?
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
Hydrogenation is used to create a pretty disgusting product. When oils are heated to very high temperatures and temporarily infused with hydrogen bubbles, the fatty acids take on some of the hydrogen, so that the fat becomes more "creamy" and buttery in texture. This saves corporations a huge amount of money by allowing them to substitute cheap hydrogenated oils for actual butter, and enables them to advertise a cheaper product. Unfortunately, the human body is not equipped to handle highly processed oils, so your metabolism slows down, you feel sluggish, tired, bloated, and hungry, and you gain weight because your body can't properly absorb the essential fatty acids it DOES need to survive.Those essential fats are then stored in newly created fat cells - hence the belly you've been struggling to eliminate for the past fifteen years.
Dimethylpolysiloxane is one of several synthetic polymer (silicone) anti-foaming agents used in such yummy treats as Silly Putty, water-repellant coatings, herbicides, various polishes, head lice shampoos, mold release agents and, oh yeah, breads, chicken nuggets, and other processed foods. As an anti-foaming agent in foods, dimethylpolysiloxane is labeled as "safe" and "non-toxic" - but if you ask me, it's probably wiser to eat bread with ingredients you can actually pronounce.
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
This emulsifier is another chemical that has been labeled as safe for human consumption by the FDA, but I'm not so convinced that I should be eating it with my daily slice of toast. Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate makes commercially baked goods lighter, fluffier, and more durable, true, but it is also used in facial moisturizers, shaving creams, foot scrubs, hair pomades, and other, similar health products. But let's cut the corporate giants who use this stuff a little slack. No one ever said it was healthy, after all - just "safe".
This one kills - literally. Ammonium sulfate is yet another chemical agent commonly used as a fertilizer, but it is also used as a flame-retardant, herbicide, bug spray, and to purify medications used to prevent the spread of well-known infectious diseases. It's considered a possible neurotoxin, and if you're going to spend time working with this compound, you must wear safety glasses, protective gloves, a face mask, a full-coverage safety suit, and avoid contact with the eyes, skin, and mucus membranes. But hey, it controls the acidity of certain ingredients in my bread and is "generally recognized as safe" by the FDA, so it must be all right to eat. Right?
I could list all the awful effects of this chemical and spend another day on this article, but all you really need to know is this: Potassium bromate, an oxidizer that bleaches flour and causes bread to rise higher, is a highly effective carcinogen. In other words, ingesting this compound in your daily bread, especially if said bread was not baked long enough, hot enough, or too much PB was added, may give you cancer. Research shows that potassium bromate may increase your risk of thyroid cancer and mesothelioma affecting the abdominal organs, lead to acute kidney failure, and cause structural abnormalities in the chromosomes of unborn babies. Potassium bromate has also been linked to acute gastrointestinal distress (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain), and has been banned in many countries world-wide because it is deemed too dangerous for human consumption. Here in the U.S., however, it is still legal. I can only assume that the authorities in charge feel that a fluffy loaf of super-white bread is worth a malignant tumor or two.