What You Need To Know About Bleached Flour!

Bleached Flour

August 19th, 1913

Flour is bleached to conceal inferiority by making it appear of better quality than it is. Most sanitary codes provide against the staining, colouring, coating or bleaching of any food product for the purpose of concealing inferiority. Under such provisions it becomes an easy matter for the corporation counsel of any American city to bring action against bleached flour.

Not satisfied with robbing the wheat of its most indispensable mineral elements, millers have still further debauched their industry by resorting to electrolytical chemistry in their efforts to fool the people.

The test for bleached flour is a simple one and a rather pretty experiment. Take a handful of the suspected flour. Pat it into the form of a little mound or pyramid, placed on a marble slab or wooden table. With the thumb depress the top of the mound, thus forming a cup or well about the size of a thimble. Into this well pour a teaspoonful of a mixture purchasable at any wholesale drug store under the name of the Gries Hasway Reagent. This reagent is a mixture of equal parts of sulphanilic acid and alpha-naphthylamic. Both these substances can be purchased in any city drug store.

Let the reagent stand in the well in the mound of flour for from ten to twenty minutes. If the flour has been bleached the reagent will be coloured pink. If the flour has not been bleached there will be no discolouration.

Modern Day July 7, 2007

It would appear that when this unnatural bleached flour came out, there were many health concerns. Now this unhealthy bleached flour is everywhere. Why did things change?

Unnatural Bleached Flour is not allowed in Europe.

Let’s look at some explanations of Bleached Flour…

The term bleaching is a traditional baking industry term that describes the process of whitening.

Technically speaking, the carotenoid (yellow) pigments in the flour are oxidized to produce white flour. Oxidization will occur naturally, over time, with the exposure of flour to air. Historically, millers would age flour for several weeks to achieve white flour. This natural oxidation, however, was an irregular process requiring considerable time and space. Today, the bleaching process is accomplished by the use of chemical bleaching agents. Flours treated with these bleaching agents must be labeled as bleached flour.

Bleached refers to flour that has been bleached chemically to whiten or improve the baking qualities.
No change occurs in the nutritional value of the flour and no harmful chemical residues remain. It is a process which speeds up the natural lightening and maturing of flour.
This was the FDA’s contribution.

Bleaches commonly used: Chlorine Gas (deadly to humans) and Benzoyl Peroxide (an ingredient normally found in acne medication). Other more hazardous bleaches were banned in the early 1900’s.
Chemical Additives commonly used: Potassium Bromate, to accelerate yeast growth and fortify gluten (these can be possible health hazards).

Flour does come in natural bleached, it is a bit more expensive. Apparently the big thing with bleaching the flour is vanity. Does the bread really need to be white, or can it be a golden tan color? Your choice. I think we will limit our intake of bleached flour products.

When rats are given the choice of hot dogs or bags of white flour, experience has always been that they invariably go for the hot dogs!


This Famishing World by Alfred W. McCann
On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
King Arthur Flour
The Cooking Inn


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