What’s Really in Your Bread?

Aristotle really loves his bread and his favourite kind is the store-bought breads easily found in any supermarket or sundry shop. We have three main brands here – Gardenia, High-5, and Massimo – although there are others, like Mighty White. My SIL and I have a nickname for this type of bread – “plastic bread”. We call it plastic because it’s full of preservatives in order to make it last longer. Given the heat and humidity of our climate, I can imagine how much more preservatives the manufacturers would have to add just to make sure the bread doesn’t go off before it hits the shelves.

Recently, I had a chance to observe the bread I bought from a bakery turn furry because I’d forgotten about it and left it in Hercules’ school bag for a couple of days. It was then that I realised I could do the same thing with plastic bread and not a spot of mold would be seen. This bread could journey from home to school to home to school and back again experiencing the changes in temperature and humidity as it made its journey and nothing would happen to it. It felt soft and fluffy a lot longer, too. Suddenly this convenience was no longer a convenience – it was troubling. I took a closer look…

This is the typical ingredients list of regular bread (if you make it yourself):

  • milk
  • sugar
  • salt
  • butter
  • yeast
  • flour

Massimo is touted as being the plastic bread with the least preservatives, so let’s look at the ingredients listing on the packaging of Massmimo Sandwich Loaf with Wheat Germ:

Massimo

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about reading labels, it is that anything as vague as “dough conditioner” and “food conditioners” are always warning bells for potentially undesirable additives in food. One “dough conditioner” that is sometimes used is azodicarbonamide which has been known to cause allergic reactions in those sensitive to other azo compounds, such as food dyes. The consumption of azodicarbonamide may also heighten an allergic reaction to other ingredients in a food. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive has identified azodicarbonamide as a respiratory sensitizer (a possible cause of asthma) and has determined that these products should be labeled with the words “may cause sensitization by inhalation.”

Calcium Propionate is another contentious additive:

  • A study in the “Journal of Paediatric Child Health” in 2002 revealed that it could cause irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in some children when consumed daily. – Livestrong
  • There is also some research that link calcium propionate to autistic type actions in rats. – Behavioural Brain Research

Even our “low preservatives” bread like Massimo contains contentious ingredients! So how can we avoid it?

The best way is to make your own bread. Of course that’s time consuming and tedious for some of us.

Investing in a bread maker can be a terrific option because it allows you to have freshly made bread without the pain of making it. Bread makers also offer the added convenience of being able to set your bread making on timer so you will always have fresh bread when you want it.

If a bread maker is still too much trouble then buying freshly made bread from a bakery is the way to go. Bakery bread is usually much better than plastic bread since bakeries have to dispose of any bread not sold on the day. That usually means the bread has no preservatives or at the very least, contains less preservatives. To make your “preservative free” bread last longer, you can freeze a portion of it until you’re ready to eat it.

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