Supermarket and bakery bread review

Modern bread processing methods have completely changed the way our daily loaf is made.
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01.What's in your bread?


Bread is still a diet staple for most Australians, but these days it contains a lot more ingredients than it used to.

We take a look at:
* How your bread is made
* Is your bread really baked fresh?
* Preservatives in bread
* Labelling and health concerns
* Choosing the right bread
* Who owns your bakery products?
* The shelf life of bread

Modern breadmaking methods

Once upon a time, bread was made with flour, water, salt and yeast and took between eight and 20 hours to produce. In the early 20th century, bakers experimented with various mechanised techniques to speed up breadmaking, but in 1961 the Chorleywood bread process changed everything.

Invented by UK scientists, the Chorleywood method allows a loaf to go from flour to sliced and packaged in about 3.5 hours using high-speed mixers and the addition of extra yeast and dough-improving chemicals. This method has changed little in the years since, because it produces cheaper loaves of a consistent size that are soft, springy and don’t go stale as quickly.

Bread ingredients

Look at the ingredients on a bread label and alongside the more recognisable substances, you’ll often see a list of mysterious numbers. Some of these additives are what are known as bread and dough “improvers” or “conditioners”. They often have more than one function, but generally they’re designed to dramatically increase the rate at which the dough rises (help breadmakers increase production speeds and lower costs), improve bread texture and taste, and extend shelf life.

Processing ingredients you'll commonly see are mineral salt 170 (calcium carbonate) and ascorbic acid (food acid 300 or treatment agent 300), otherwise known as vitamin C. Emulsifiers (427e, 481, 471), vegetable gums (412, 461) and amino acid 920 speed up dough handling, help sliced bread retain its shape and extend shelf life by reducing the crystallisation of starch that makes the bread go hard. (If you put bread in the fridge, the cold temperature increases the rate of crystallisation and the bread goes hard faster.)

Only small amounts of these additives are required – usually up to three per cent of the bread – and bakers often buy them in a ready-made premix, to which they add water and yeast. Most breads, whether from a factory or a small baker, are made from similar premixes – differences generally stem from baking techniques.

Since 2009, it’s been mandatory for breads (except organic ones) to add iodine using iodised salt (for thyroid health), as well as folic acid, a form of the B vitamin folate that helps reduce the rate of neural tube defects in infants.



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