Shop Bought Vs Home Baked: Some Unsavoury Truths

Published on 22nd August 2013

By Leila El-Dean

There are many reasons why people decide to buy breadmakers. One common reason is that making your own bread tends to be a healthier option than buying supermarket loaves. All you need to make bread in your machine is flour, yeast, sugar, water, fat and salt (which is optional).

shop bought bread

Shop bought bread can contain some surprises! (image source: Flickr)

Readymade bread contains a host of other ingredients that you wouldn't put in your bread machine. So, let's have a look at what goes into a shop bought loaf.

Flour Treatment Agent

L-ascorbic acid is also known as E300. It is basically vitamin C which doesn't seem so bad, but why do they put in bread? Well, it is added to mass produced loaves to help the dough rise and give it a 'springy' quality. The downside is that it is also used to make poor quality bread more palatable.


It's not exactly a secret that flour is bleached to make white bread. Potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide and chlorine dioxide gas are the common substances used to bleach flour. When you bake your own bread, you can avoid using ingredients that sound like something out of a chemistry experiment!

Reducing Agent

This is also known as L-cysteine hydrochloride or E920. Cysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid. It is used in commercial bread to make dough stretchier and it is often found in products like French sticks. The unsavoury side is the fact that it is sometimes derived from feathers and animal hair. So, vegans and vegetarians take note!

Soya Flour

This isn't a big deal, but it's not a traditional ingredient. Soya allergies are surprisingly common so it isn't a healthy option for everyone.


These additives aren't exactly sinister, but you don't need to use them in your home baked bread! They are used to add volume to the dough and control the size of the gas bubbles within it. These additives also prevent the water and fat from separating. One of the most common emulsifiers is Monoglycerides (E471), which is derived from glycerol - a form of sugar alcohol.


Acetic acid, or vinegar, is widely used as a preservative in bread. Calcium propionate is also commonly used and this doesn't sound quite as appetizing! It helps prevent mould from growing and prolongs the shelf life of loaves.

Whilst these ingredients are safe to consume, it's easy to see why someone might not want to eat them at all! When you stick to making bread in your breadmaker, you can avoid any dubious additives and enjoy pure unadulterated bread.

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