Why Is Bleached Flour Banned In Europe?

Even if reading the label on the products you find on grocery shelves is becoming easier, the ingredients can still be somewhat perplexing. We eat things that are actually forbidden in the European Union and many other nations here in the US.

Politics heavily influences whether a food is banned, even though public outcry against food nearly always centres on health.

In actuality, Europeans adore dairy products, and the EU as a whole produces the most dairy in the world. The EU outlawed milk and dairy products from cows given synthetic growth hormones in 1999; these products are also prohibited in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and other countries.

The Food and Drug Administration has insisted since 1993 that the hormones that increase milk production in cows don’t endanger people. The FDA, the EPA, and the National Institutes of Health all concur that they are unable to distinguish between milk from cows that have had hormone treatment and milk from cows that have not.

However, proponents contend that little is known about the effects of bovine growth hormone, including some doctors. Many producers and merchants, including General Mills, Dannon, and Wal-Mart, have committed to being hormone-free in response to consumer demand.

Scientists have developed strains of damaging insect and disease-resistant corn, soybean, wheat, and other crops. Since many years, these crops have been produced extensively in the US, but not in the European Union.

Europeans have misgivings about genetically modified food and what they perceive to be corporate motivations. Some experts, such as the eminent scientist David Suzuki, contend that consuming genetically modified foods is increasing antibiotic resistance in both crops and the animals that eat them, including people.

Simply travel to the UK if it is difficult to envision a world without colourful cereal, mac and cheese, candies, and juice beverages. The laundry list of the most used food colorings, including Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, and Red 3, has been linked in numerous studies to behavioural issues in kids.

Despite not completely banning the colours, the European Union does mandate special labelling for foods containing the pigments that have been related to behavioural issues.

According to this article by Columbia University Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. David Schab “Even though not all kids seem to be sensitive to these substances, it’s difficult to defend their continued use in food, particularly in products that are largely targeted at young children.

The majority of devoted bakers in the US are adamant: light and fluffy cakes, waffles, and pancakes are best made with bleached wheat, which has less protein than unbleached flour.

While less nutrients are present in bleached flour than in unbleached flour, this isn’t the actual problem.

In Europe, flour is given a week or more to sit in the air to become whiter. In the US, food additives including chlorine, bromates, and peroxides—which have been outlawed in Europe and numerous other nations since the early 1990s—are used to bleach flour. The cause is that these chemicals—which were never truly meant to be consumed—might cause cancer.

Partially hydrogenated oils, which don’t occur in nature and are present in a wide variety of foods like peanut butter, pastries, and candies, are inexpensive, give food a beautiful texture, and, by all accounts, are extremely harmful to human health. It is hardly surprising that several European nations have placed severe restrictions on the use of hydrogenated oils in manufactured goods. Denmark, one of the world’s healthiest nations, passed legislation in 2003 limiting trans fats in food to no more than 2%.

American manufacturers weren’t even required to list their products “Up until 2006, hydrogenated oil was extremely unhealthy due to trans fats. Many firms are voluntarily phasing out trans fats since public health experts attribute them to a wide range of malignancies and heart conditions.

Beginning in July 2008, New York City forbade the use of artificial fats in dining establishments, and on January 1, 2009, California enacted legislation along similar lines.

Why is bleached flour a problem?

While everyone here loves colourful cupcakes and quick-rising bread, we’re not huge fans of bleached flour for a few reasons.

A chemical breakdown that takes place during the bleaching process reduces the amount of minerals in the flour, especially vitamin E. As a result, these nutrients frequently need to be reintroduced.

Although it is quite mild, bleached flour has a distinctly bitter aftertaste that people with a sensitive palate may perceive.

Only a few of the approximately 20 distinct chemicals are used at once by businesses to bleach flour. The majority are regarded as safe and food-grade, although many are concerned about the long-term safety of eating foods that have been chlorinated. After the bleaching process, these preservatives are still present in the flour, and consequently, in anything you bake with it.


The method of processing is one of the most obvious distinctions between bleached and unbleached flour.

The bran and germ of the wheat kernel, which are rich in nutrients and have traditionally been removed to produce refined flour, have stripped the grain of many essential vitamins and minerals, leaving only the endosperm.

Any type of flour, refined or not, that is unbleached is included.

The next step is milling, which entails turning grains like wheat into a fine powder.

Following that, bleached flour is subjected to chemical treatments using benzoyl peroxide, potassium bromate, or chlorine to hasten the ageing process. Flour is aged to enhance specific baking-related properties.

The taste, texture, and look of the finished product, as well as its nutritional composition and potential use in baking, are all considerably altered by this chemical procedure.

Unbleached flour, on the other hand, ages naturally following the milling procedure. Because the bleaching procedure takes much longer than natural ageing, bleached flour was developed.

Both kinds are occasionally “enriched,” which is the process of reintroducing certain nutrients to the flour (1).


The bleaching process alters the flavour, consistency, and appearance of flour in numerous ways.

Bleached flour has a whiter colour, a finer grain, and a softer texture as a result of the chemicals employed to hasten the ageing process.

Though there are only tiny flavour changes between the two types, those with extremely sensitive palates could detect a somewhat bitter flavour in bleached flour.

Unbleached flour has a denser grain and a rougher texture, while bleached flour has a whiter colour, finer grain, and softer texture. Chemicals are applied to bleached flour to quicken the ageing process.

Is white flour prohibited in the UK?

The task of separating the wheat seed into its component parts—bran, wheat germ, and pure white flour—remains with the millers. The whiteness you see is entirely natural because bleaching flour is prohibited in the UK and the EU. In some parts of the world, flour is bleached, hence you may see recipes that specify “unbleached flour.”

Grain is not simply ground the way it was in the Roman Empire today. This makes it difficult to separate most of the white flour from the bran and germ. To open the individual grains, scrape, separate, and grind each component, machines are utilised instead. This process is repeated until every component has been thoroughly ground and separated. The devices could process the wheat up to 16 times.

Does bleached flour cause cancer?

Think about unbleached flour now. As the name suggests, this grain’s lack of bleach during manufacture gives it a somewhat less-perfect white hue than its bleached version.

Bleaching flour is not a brand-new topic. The method was first used during the industrial revolution, which also saw the introduction of assembly lines and mass production of goods like flour and bread. Chemicals like chlorine gas and potassium bromate, which accelerated the oxidation process and eliminated the time lapse flour needed to properly mature and age, allowed millers to save time, money, and storage space.

Unlike other farm-to-table garden products, which are best when just picked or freshly ground, “For baking, green flour isn’t the best option. Wheat flour’s gluten needs time and oxygen to mature, making for a more elastic, elastic dough that is lighter and fluffier. The flour’s colour naturally lightens and gets whiter as it ages.

However, there is a catch: in the quick-paced food market of today, one to two months of natural oxidation equals years. With the added benefit of producing a whiter, more appealing product, bleach replaced the natural ageing process with a chemical procedure.

Is there cause for fear, then? Not unless the flour has undergone a potassium bromate processing step. This substance has been the main strengthener in freshly milled flour since the turn of the 20th century, and it serves as the benchmark for evaluating all other maturing agents. However, bromates were connected to cancer in lab animals during the 1980s. Although the FDA has urged bakers to avoid using it, the possible carcinogen has not yet been outlawed in the United States. In Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe, the substance is forbidden, and in California, items containing it are required to include a warning label. The ingredient list’s inclusion of “unbromated wheat flour” signals their decision to do away with it.

Commercial bakeries that operate at fast speeds today rely greatly on the uniformity of bleached flour. The bleaching procedure takes around 24 hours to complete, and the end result is consistently mature flour. For their products, corporate businesses rely on this stability. Imagine supposing each bite of Chips Ahoy didn’t have the same appearance and flavour. However, as amateur bakers, the majority of us don’t run a Nabisco factory out of our kitchens every day.

“According to Sharon Davis of the Home Baking Association, the difference between bleached and unbleached flour is essentially undetectable by the average home baker. “The bleaching procedure aids in consistency for professional bakers. Every time, spread, texture, volume, and grain quality must be correct, but for the home baker, bleach just improves the colour of bread or cookies.”

It depends on your preferences whether you prefer bleached flour to unbleached flour. Bleached flour just provides a whiter, brighter flour that occasionally converts into the finished baked good for the amateur baker. However, neither one is a true whole grain, regardless of how enriched they may be.

Which flour should I buy: bleached or unbleached?

Both bleached and unbleached materials are bleached; what differentiates them is the sort of bleaching method. To expedite the production of bleached flour, additives or bleaching agents are added.

“Bleached flour accelerates the ageing process of the flour by using bleaching agents, most frequently benzoyl peroxide and chlorine gas. This produces flour with a softer texture and whiter, finer grain. Some individuals with delicate palates may detect a flavour difference when using bleached flour, “reports on this white flour from Kitchn. “Compared to foods cooked with unbleached flour, foods made with bleached flour typically have a softer texture, more volume, and a brighter colour. Making fast breads, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, and other baked goods is best done with bleached flour.”

Flour that hasn’t been bleached is simply bleached naturally over time. This common baking ingredient’s texture and appearance are both impacted by ageing.

Whole wheat flour and unbleached flour are sometimes mistaken for one another, however unbleached flour is likewise white in colour “This sort of flour may have had various chemical treatments even though it hasn’t been bleached. Because every brand is unique, it’s crucial to read the label to understand what you’re purchasing. Unbleached flour has a stronger grain texture and offers greater structure in baked goods, making it the perfect foundation for items like yeast breads, cream puffs, eclairs, and pastries.”

Although there are certain differences between these two kinds of flour, you may really utilise either one. If you’re aiming to eliminate very specific substances from your diet, such as the bleaching agents that give bleached flour its distinctive flavour, it’s crucial to pay attention to the details. Additionally, if you’re cooking a very precise dish and want the flavour to be quite unique, it’s crucial.

However, aside from those factors, most people’s cooking and baking experiences don’t depend much on whether they use bleached or unbleached flour. Both types of flour are regarded as all-purpose flour and can be used interchangeably as bread flour. You may get them on Amazon or at your neighbourhood grocery shop. Kelli from Kitchn continues, “Your muffins will still rise, your cookies will still be tasty, and your layer cake will turn out just fine.”

So it turns out that you can actually use any type of flour in the debate between bleached and unbleached flour.

Which flour is the healthiest?

The dried coconut meat is ground into a smooth, soft flour to create coconut flour, which is grain- and gluten-free.

Compared to conventional grain-based flours, it has more calories per serving and is a rich source of protein, fat, fibre, and minerals including iron and potassium.

Coconut flour has a high fat content compared to grain flours. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which make up the majority of this fat and are mostly saturated, may help to reduce inflammation and support a healthy metabolism (1, 2).

Although it’s debatable, saturated fat from coconuts probably has a different impact on your health than fast food, fried foods, and processed meats—and it might even have advantages (3, 4).

Additionally loaded with antioxidants, coconut flour also seems to possess antibacterial qualities (5).

Can I use unbleached flour for bleached flour?

Can Unbleached Flour Be Used in Place of Bleached Flour? In recipes, both bleached and unbleached flour can be utilised. However, bleached flour contains proteins that have undergone changes, which aid in the formation of gluten linkages during baking.

How can I tell whether flour has been bromed?

One variety of bleached flour is bromated flour. To increase the rise and increase the suppleness of the dough, it has been given a potassium bromate treatment. Bromate, however, has been classified as a category 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It can result in cancer in a variety of animal organs, including the thyroid, GI, and kidney. As a result, it poses a risk of cancer to people as well. However, because bromate flour gives the dough greater flexibility and improves its rise, many commercial bakers utilise it. For the same reason, some amateur bakers also utilise bromate flour.

The use of potassium bromate is forbidden in a number of places, including China, Australia, Canada, and Europe. Bromate flour is not forbidden in the US, nevertheless. In fact, bromate flour makes up the majority of all-purpose flour varieties sold in US supermarkets. Some US states do not require labelling. However, it’s best to check the flour label and stay away from bleached flour. Potassium bromate has the E-number E924. Additionally, you should stay away from items made with white or enriched flour and choose rye, sprouted, or whole wheat bread instead.