Supermarket and bakery bread review

Modern bread processing methods have completely changed the way our daily loaf is made.
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07.Shelf life

How long should bread last?

Packaged sliced bread can be 24 hours old by the time it arrives at the shops because it’s baked the day before and then transported. Consumers will have no idea how old the bread is, because the best-before tag indicates when it should be eaten by rather than when it was baked. Bakers we spoke to agree the lifespan of a fresh loaf should be about two or three days. But we found packaged breads last much longer than fresh-baked breads.

So how do packaged bread companies make their bread last mould-free so long without artificial preservatives? Manufacturers claim advances in processing methods help, as does packaging that limits the flow of moisture, oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Artificial preservatives may also be replaced with natural ones. As an example, mould can be kept at bay by citric acid (330), lactic acid (270) and fumaric acid (297). Other preservatives are vegetable gums, vinegar (acetic acid 260) and sodium.

Shelf life experiment

We stored 10 slices of white bread that didn’t contain artificial preservatives in airtight containers to see how long they took to go mouldy. The slices from the independent baker and Bakers Delight went mouldy first, on day four, followed on day five by the in-store bread from Coles, Woolies and the artisan. Wonder White and Aldi’s Country Bakery lasted until day eight and Tip Top finally gave up the ghost on day 10.

Watch our slideshow to see how the independent baker's bread fared.


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