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LABELWATCH
Wheat Flour
Cautionary Ingredient - This ingredient appears to be problematic.
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What it is:
Processed wheat flour: Used in baked goods.
 
What we know:
A wheat grain contains three parts, the bran, germ, and the endosperm. The bran is the outer hard shell of the grain. It's the part of the grain that provides the most fiber and most of the B vitamins and minerals. The germ is the next layer and is packed with nutrients including essential fatty acids and vitamin E. The endosperm is the soft starchy part in the center of the grain.

White flour (including enriched wheat flour) is a refined grain, meaning the germ and bran are removed and all that remains is the starch. In the United States, we enrich or add some vitamins and one mineral back into refined grains. About 11 vitamins and minerals are removed with the elimination of the germ and bran, and only five are added back.

All white flours (unless otherwise stated) use bleaching agents such as chlorines, bromates, and peroxides. Use of chlorine, bromates, and peroxides is not allowed in many countries due to health concerns.

Chlorine bleaching agents have been linked to a chemical reaction in the body that has been shown to destroy beta cells in the pancreas, which in turn promotes diabetes.

Bromate rapidly breaks down to form innocuous bromide. Bromate has been shown to cause cancer in animals. The tiny amounts of bromate that may remain in bread pose a small risk to consumers, however, Bromate has been banned virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States. It is rarely used in California because a cancer warning might be required on the label. In 1999, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban bromate.

Benzoyl Peroxide is a bleaching agent used in refined flours, cheese, milk, rice, starch. It's also used as an acne medication, an antiseptic in many cough medications and an antifungal in ointments. There is concern that ingredients treated with benzoyl perozide leave trace amounts of benzene, a known carcinogenic when baked. Athough the amounts of benzene that form are small, leading to only a very small risk of cancer, there is no need for consumers to experience any risk.

Azodicarbonamide is a flour bleaching agent and improving agent. When it reacts with flour, it behaves as a hydrogen acceptor, and is quickly and completely converted to biurea, which is stable even during baking. Use of azodicarbonamide as a food additive is banned in Australia and in Europe. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive has identified azodicarbonamide as a respiratory sensitizer (a possible cause of asthma) and determined that products should be labeled with May cause sensitization by inhalation.

A good rule of thumb, especially for grains is that the further away a food is from its natural state, the less nutritious.

 
Other Names:
Bleached enriched wheat flour; Bleached flour with malted barley; Bleached wheat flour, all-purpose flour, bleached flour, bread flour
 
 
Information Provided By:
American Diabetes Association
CSPI