Supermarket and bakery bread review

Modern bread processing methods have completely changed the way our daily loaf is made.
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04.Labelling and health concerns

Questions have been raised about a loophole in labelling laws that allows manufacturers to avoid listing unpopular ingredients such as 282 or 223. In the Food Standards Code, food processing aids don’t have to be listed as ingredients. According to FSANZ, it’s very unusual for there to be anything other than minimal residues of these processing aids in foods.

As a sulphite, 223 is not permitted for use as a preservative in bread. It is, however, permitted for use as a processing agent – and so it can be used and not listed.

If 282 is used as a preservative, it must be listed, but if the manufacturer deems it a processing aid, it does not. So it’s essentially up to manufacturers to “apply good manufacturing practice”.

Enzymes such as alpha-amylase are also classed as processing aids and so don’t have to be listed. Used in most breads in a dried, powdered form, they artificially help speed up the fermenting process that would normally occur when traditional dough is left to rise.

Concerns have been raised that enzymes are still allergenic, even after baking. Studies have found workers exposed to airborne particles of alpha-amylase can become susceptible to “baker’s asthma”. But FSANZ argues most of the allergenic effect of alpha-amylase is destroyed during cooking, pointing to a World Health Organization/UN Food and Agriculture Organization expert committee which found no adverse effect from seven grams of the enzyme per kilogram of body weight per day.

Tummy troubles

Some people believe that modern processing methods, in particular the reduced fermentation time of the dough which gives the yeast less time to break down, could be contributing to digestive problems such as bloating.

Jonathan Brostoff, professor of allergies at King’s College London, says in a UK newspaper that the enzymes and additives make proteins harder to break down, describing modern bread as "engineered to be at its most indigestible."

Others suggest that gluten is a large molecule that’s poorly digested by the gut and that as serving sizes increase, people are simply eating too much bread. This can result in digestive discomfort, especially when combined with eating on the go or hunched over a desk.


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