What's in my bread?

Consumers have become increasingly label-savvy over the past few years, with more and more consumers attempting to read and understand food labels prior to purchase. We’ve included the following chart on our site to give you some indication as to the ingredients found in most bread products, including what these ingredients actually attribute to your bread.

Ingredient/ Claim

Acidity regulators   



Fats and oils    


Flour treatment agents    





Malt flour / extract   

Milk or milk solids    

Omega 3 fatty acids   



Soy flour    

Soy & linseed   



Vitamin E   

What it does

Makes bread more acidic, which slows the growth of mould and bacteria, which don’t like acidic environments. Commonly used are citric acid (330), acetic acid (vinegar, 260) and lactic acid (270).

Improve the crumb colour, texture, volume and softness of the bread; help delay staling by increasing the initial softness of the bread, and also by combining with starch to reduce the rate of crystallisation and hardening of the crumb.

May be added to boost the fermentation process, and add to the volume and softness of the finished product; can also slow the rate at which bread stales.

Improve the flavour of the bread; also make it more tender, aid in the browning of the loaf and keep it feeling fresh. Vegetable oils are most commonly used.

A good alternative for kids who refuse to eat wholemeal or wholegrain bread.

Improve the fermentation process and improve the texture of the bread. Some of those used include ascorbic acid (vitamin C, 300) and calcium carbonate (170).

Increasingly added to bread; women of child-bearing age need to get at least 400 micrograms per day – it reduces the risk of giving birth to a baby with a spinal cord condition such as spina bifida. May also protect against heart disease.

The protein component of wheat; it strengthens the structure of the crumb. While it’s naturally present in the flour, extra may be added to improve the texture and ‘bite’.

Iron is naturally in bread, but extra is added to some types. However, meat is the best source of haem iron, the form of iron the body can absorb most easily; the non-haem iron in bread isn’t as readily absorbed.

Derived from barley; it adds flavour and contributes to the colour, softness and moistness of bread.

May be added to the bread to help keep it moist, add flavour and soften the crust.

Soy and linseed breads (see below) contain omega 3s; A diet high in omega 3s can lower ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood; high levels of both contribute to heart disease.

Calcium propionate is added to some bread to prevent the growth of mould, but it’s also recently been linked to possible behavioural problems in children. Vinegar is added to some breads as a preservative.

Added for flavour, and to assist fermentation.

Whitens the bread, softens the texture, keeps the bread fresh and helps to improve the volume.

May ease some menopause symptoms; also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids (see above).

Used by the yeast to grow, thus producing carbon dioxide; responsible for making the dough rise. It also flavours the bread, helps to keep it moist and helps the crust brown.

Must be added to bread by law, to help prevent a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, mainly suffered by those with alcohol dependency: most people eat bread, so this is a way of trying to reduce the prevalence of the condition in the general populace.

An antioxidant that helps protect cells in the body from damage; may also protect against heart disease. Wholegrain cereals are a particularly good source of Vitamin E, as are vegetable oils, nuts, oily fish and green leafy vegetables.

Taken from the Australian Consumers Association website http://www.choice.com.au

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