Article by: Dr Lee
Not long ago, I was invited to give health talk in China. Almost everyday, the mass media kept reporting about the problem of too much whitener in wheat flour. Unethical manufacturer added too much Benzoyl peroxide in the flour for a better looking appearance. And within that week, I ate a lot of noodles due to tight schedule. This made me feel bad.
Why add Benzoyl peroxide?
In the past, Benzoyl peroxide was not added into the flour. The processed flour must be stored for 20 to 30 days. This allowed the air to oxidize beta-carotene in flour. Only then we can use it to make bread and other flour products. That is why flour gradually gets whiter as time passes.
By adding Benzoyl peroxide, manufacturer can reduce flour maturity period from 20-30 days to 2-3 days.
What is Benzoyl peroxide?
This substance is a type of food additive used to improve flour quality during factory processing. As it is not stable, Benzoyl peroxide will convert back to benzoyl and stain the flour. Since this substance is a strong oxidant, it is also used as chemical whitener. WHO suggests daily dosage of only 40mg/kg. And the European Union banned the use of Benzoyl peroxide in 1997.
Whitener’s harm to our body
1. Upon entering our body, the liver has to neutralize Benzoyl peroxide. This is the reason why this substance is bad for those with weak liver.
2. Benzoyl peroxide also contains some selenium and lead. That is why EU banned its use in 1997.
3. This additive will destroy nutrient content in flour. It oxidizes beta carotene, affect vitamin A content and causes the loss of vitamin E and K. It even has some influence on vitamin B1 and B2.
4. Long term consumption of flour and its products which contain Benzoyl peroxide may cause chronic intoxication. This is especially harmful for the liver.
5. Beijing Medical University and Xiehe Medical University’s joint publication in 1997 stated it may cause cancer.
Additives are found everywhere. We must be cautious of these additives to reduce risking our health.