Is it what it should be?
To make bread you really only need flour, yeast, a small amount of salt, water and... time. The element of time is the ingredient that has been removed in mass produced bread – it quite simply costs too much.
Back in the 1960s a new method (the Chorleywood Bread Process) was introduced that involved incorporating air and water into dough and mixing it at high speed in mechanical mixers. However, it was not quite as simple as that – double the quantity of yeast were needed to make it rise, chemical oxidants were needed to get the gas in and fat had to be added to provide structure – without the fat the bread collapsed.
Your bread label may mention ‘vegetable fat’ but as it is used as a processing aid and may be part of a mixed ‘flour treatment agent’ you may never see it on a label.
In 1998 the use of flour bleached with chlorine compounds was banned but chlorinated flour made life easier for the mass bakers as it allowed higher levels of water to be added. The bakery industry turned to the use of enzymes as processing aids.
These enzymes are destroyed in the baking process so, at present, do not appear on your list of ingredients. They, like some other substances used, are classed as processing aids and the law does not require that the manufacturer even tells you that they have been used let alone what they are.
Commercial breads often also include food additives. These at least do have to be included on the label.
Regulations have changed over the years. Thankfully. in the UK the only oxidizing agent that may now be used is E300 ascorbic acid (vitamin c).
Emulsifiers help mix ingredients together that would normally separate. Two emulsifiers are commonly used by the bakeries to provide dough stability, help improve loaf volume and crumb structure, and to maintain softness:
E471 Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (usually produced from glycerine and fatty acids).
E472e Mono- and diacetyltartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (usually produced from esters of glycerol and tartaric acid).
The preservative E282 Calcium Propionate is used to inhibit the growth of mould spores and bacteria. Commercially this is produced from propionic acid. Vinegar is sometimes used as an alternative preservative.
The additions do not stop there. UK regulations require that flour should contain certain levels of B vitamins, calcium and iron – amounts that are naturally found in wholemeal flours. All flours that are not wholemeal will have these added. Not a bad thing you may think but what are these vitamins made from – you will never know.
The more ingredients your bead contains the more complex a product it is and the harder it becomes to unravel any potential food intolerance and allergy problems. It is why the Seven Step Plan recommends simplifying your diet.
Further information can be found in The Food Intolerance Handbook.