By Dr. Alicia Armitstead
Have you ever read the ingredients for certain food products and seen ‘bleached flour’? When flour is made it is actually not white and has a certain odor to it so it is bleached to make it whiter and take out the odor. Bleached flour also has a longer shelf life. The most common bleaching agent in flour is exactly the bleaching agent we use at home: chlorine. The chlorine used to make white bread is in the form of chlorine dioxide gas. Chlorine destroys the vitamin E and B vitamins of the flour, and reacts with certain proteins to form methionine sulfoxide which is known to cause central nervous system damage in humans.
Have you ever read the ingredients for certain foods and seen ‘enriched bleached flour’? Enriched flour is flour that has been sprayed with synthetic vitamins as an attempt to put back in the flour all that was taken out by its processing. Vitamin E and B vitamins are particularly sprayed on white flour. Total cereal has a total of synthetic vitamins sprayed on its flakes otherwise it’s like any other cereal flake.
Bleaching flour started in the early 1900s and was vehemently opposed. In 1906, government passed the Pure Food and Drug Act which prohibiting the interstate transportation and sale of adulterated food. The act defined adulterated food as that which is combined or packaged with another substance that adversely affects the quality or strength of the food; is substituted in whole or part by another substance; has had any essential component removed in whole or part; has been blended, coated, colored, or stained to conceal damage or inferiority; or has had poisonous or harmful additions made to it.
The legality of bleached flour went to the Supreme Court in 1910. At that time chlorine dioxide was not being used but nitrates. In 1914 “the Supreme Court rules in U.S. v. Lexington Mill & Elevator Company against USDA because the government has not shown a connection between nitrite residues in the bleached flour and the harm to humans that the residues were alleged to cause. While the Court is sympathetic to the Bureau of Chemistry’s efforts to protect the public from nitrites, it nonetheless states that the government had to show some relationship between the nitrite residues left in the flour and the harm it is capable of producing in humans. The Court states that the mere presence of such an ingredient is not sufficient to make a food illegal. After the case is settled, bleached flour is allowed in interstate commerce as long as it does not conceal damaged flour and is clearly labeled as “bleached flour.”” (http://ncseonline.org/nle/crsreports/pesticides/pest-5.cfm)
Since then approximately 60 different chemicals have been approved to bleach flour. Although no single mill uses all 60 additives, eight or more are common place.
Great Britain also started using bleached flour in the early 1900s but was smart enough to outlaw the use of chlorine dioxide in 1997 (Food Industries Manual, 24th Edition Ranken, M.D., Kill, R.C. and Baker, C.G.J. in collaboration with the Leatherhead Food Research Association London, UK 1997) and now all bleached flour is outlawed.
Bleached flour is all white flour and is found not only in white bread but also in cakes, cookies, bagels, muffins, pastas and cereals. So start reading ingredients and if you have a hard time finding them, can’t read them because the print is so small or can’t find them at all it’s because the manufacturer doesn’t want you to know what’s in the product!
Replace white bread with whole wheat products but read the ingredients because manufacturers like to advertise whole wheat products that have whole wheat flour but also bleached flour mixed in with it.
Dr. Alicia Armitstead is a licensed chiropractor in New York City. In her clinic, Healing Arts Chiropractor, she is dedicated to designing personal health improvement programs. Dr. Armitstead holds degrees from University of Bridgeport and the University of Bridgeport Chiropractic College in Connecticut. She is certified in Advanced Clinical Training of Nutrition Response TestingSM.
By Dr. Alicia Armitstead