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Harmful Ingredients Found in Commercial Bread

Before the industrialization of foods became so widespread throughout the U.S., our grandparents most certainly enjoyed a much more natural selection of food items that weren’t packed with ingredients that kept them on the store shelves longer — when breads or other baked items went bad and got moldy, that was a natural indication that you shouldn’t eat it.

But in almost all foods we eat today, unless certified organic, have a myriad of ingredients that you would have never found a few decades ago. Suffice to say, it’s no wonder many degenerative diseases have skyrocketed in the U.S. Seemingly what’s more important to most commercial food manufacturers, is not the quality and nutrient content that will help boost the health of their consumers, but rather, how long they can keep their food on the grocery store shelves before spoiling, which of course means the longer it’s on the shelf, the higher the probability of it selling.

Here’s a list of ingredients, some that are known to cause side effects and often can be detrimental to our health.


Mono & Di-glycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (SSL), and Diacetyl Esters of Tartaric Acid (DATEM) are used to keep the dough uniform and strong and the air bubbles open.

Mono & Di-glycerides are considered softeners because they prevent the starch complexes from firming or going stale.

SSL and DATEM are dough strengtheners. These two chemicals interact with the proteins and prevent them from collapsing when other ingredients are added to the dough such as raisins, bran or nuts.

Lecithin aids in the emulsification of the fats in the bread which, in turn, makes a more consistent crumb. It also helps the bread remains softer by retaining more moisture and is a great binding agent. Of course, lecithin is derived from soy, so it is from genetically modified plants.

Dough Conditioners

Azodicarbonamide is used in the food industry as a food additive, a flour bleaching agent and improving agent. Azodicarbonamide actually relaxes the dough so that when it is divided in large-scale bakeries under pressure, it still retains a good character.  It 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. The principal use of azodicarbonamide is in the production of foamed plastics as an additive.

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.” Do you really want to eat this?

It should be mentioned that ascorbic acid is also used as a dough conditioner to strengthen the gluten, but because it tightens the dough, it has a limited use, and is rarely used commercially.

Bromide is a dough conditioner found in most flours as potassium bromate. It replaced potassium iodate starting in the 1960′s because bakers claim it yields dependable results, and it makes the dough more elastic, which can stand up to bread hooks and other commercial baking tools.

Bromate is an endocrine disruptor that competes for the same receptors in the thyroid gland as iodine. Constant ingestion of bromate in your daily bread may eventually create a thyroid hormone imbalance because iodine is needed for thyroid hormone production. It is also implicated in many cancers.

The UK banned bromate in bread in 1990. 
Canada banned bromate in bread in 1994.

In 1999, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to prohibit the use of potassium bromate, charging that the FDA had known for years that bromate causes cancer in lab animals. It is still in use today, although some artisan bakeries will use unbromated flour.


Calcium propionate is probably the most common preservative in commercial breads. The propionic acid inhibits the growth of molds and other microorganisms. However, there has been some speculation that calcium propionate may induce autistic type actions in rats.

Propionic acid may appear as cultured wheat starch or cultured whey on a food label.

Bread Improvers

The two main reasons for the use of bread improvers are: to help produce gas, and to retain the gas inside the bread. This is done by including enzymes, such as amylases to act on the starch and proteases to act on the gluten. The protease enzyme strengthens the gluten, thereby giving the bread a better structure and retaining more of the gas produced.

Sourdough fermentation over a 24 hour period naturally produces these enzymes — they do not need to be added. Bread improvers aim to boost the amount of these enzymes artificially, thereby increasing the amount of fermentation early on in the bread production. This eliminates the need for a long fermentation and helps companies produce more in less time.

Hydrochloride and Sodium metabisulfate are used as gluten softening and clearing agents. Sodium metabisulfate had been singled out as being highly allergenic and is not used as much today.

High fructose corn syrup

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a common sweetener in sodas and fruit-flavored drinks. As use of high-fructose corn syrup has increased, so have levels of obesity and related health problems, leading some to wonder if there’s a connection.

Research has shown that high-fructose corn syrup is chemically similar to table sugar. Controversy exists, however, about whether or not the body handles high-fructose corn syrup differently than table sugar.

HFCS has been identified as a major health concern. Thanks to natural health advocates and activist groups, consumers around the world are saying no to HFCS. In response, the Corn Refiners Association has decided to rename their product. The organization wants to rename “corn syrup” to “corn sugar.” This would trick consumers into thinking that they are not consuming corn syrup, when they actually are.

A new, eye-opening study has taken the novel approach of examining a country’s high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) consumption and correlated that with the incidence of diabetes.

Corn syrup (fructose) when eaten in excess causes negative metabolic effects including excess weight gain with accumulation of fat and insulin resistance (Stanhope et al, 2009). Insulin resistance leads to diabetes, and this study shows the clear association between corn syrup and the rise in diabetes rates.

The study published in the journal Global Public Health compared 43 countries (Goran et al, 2012). Half of those countries had little or no corn syrup in their foods or citizens’ diets. Countries that consume none or very little HFCS include India, Ireland, Czech Republic, Austria, France, and China. The highest HFCS consuming countries include the US, Mexico, Canada, and Japan. The United States is by far the greatest consumer and the greatest producer of corn syrup. The average American consumes 55 pounds of HFCS per year. Far more than any other country.

Organic and less ingredients the better

If you read on a package of food that you buy at the store, be sure you can pronounce what’s in it. More often than not, you’ll find the ingredients list is comprised of more chemicals to keep it from spoiling, which of course, is being ingested by unwary consumers.

You’re best bet is to steer clear from packaged foods if at all possible and shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store, where you’ll find much less processed foods. Anything that you do find, be sure to read the ingredients — there’s a reason why that ingredient list is so small on the package — food manufacture would never be able to list all their ingredients on the package if they weren’t. I always look for the less amount of ingredients in the food as possible. And if you can’t pronounce it, it’s most likely something you don’t want to put in your body.

Here’s to your good health!


  • Hate you hippies

    So… science shows that granulated sugar and corn syrup are identical. So why… why do you freaks feel the need to single it out as something that is worse than “sugar?” Both are bad… both are the same. One comes from the seeds of a plant, one comes from the stalk.

  • Rosco

    Been eating natural foods and feel so much better. The best scientific study is try eating natural yourself. You’ll get a strange feeling. It’s called health and it’s unfamiliar to most of us. Your body will have more energy than it knows what to do with. But it takes work to find real food.