During a recent visit with a friend she mentioned that she'd heard that sugar (and flour) are either filtered or bleached using animal waste products. Is this true? It sounds too horrible to be anything more than a myth, but you never know.
She also mentioned that she doesn't use flour that's been bromated. What does all this mean?
Thanks for all you do.
Well, some of what you heard is definitely true. First, let's look at sugar. Almost all (98%) of white and brown sugar incorporates a horrifying step: Since raw cane sugar is brown and sticky, most sugar refineries use slaughterhouse animal "bone ash" as a filtering agent to remove the molasses, thus creating free flowing white sugar. As for brown sugar, it is white sugar with the molasses added back in! Only raw and turbinado sugar do not involve this hiddeous process, but of course, they still cause sugar highs and lows and the same damaging, obesity-causing insulin responses.
Flour is a different animal. It's actually bleached. The process of bleaching flour creates a whiter product but it also leaves a residue of bleach on the product.
Bleaching is most often accomplished with a gas called chlorine dioxide, which is toxic by inhalation, and is a skin irritant. White bleached flour is a product of the World Wars in this century, developed to try and enhance the shelf-life of flour. But it is so nutritionally bland and chemical tasting that rats won't even eat it.
Some bleaching agents have been banned (e.g., nitrogen trichloride), but new ones have been introduced, and their safety is questionable. One such agent is Acetyl Benzoyl Peroxide - many scientists believe it to be toxic.
When white flour is refined:
Bromate was first found to cause tumors in rats in 1982. Subsequent studies on rats and mice confirmed that it causes tumors of the kidney, thyroid, and other organs. Instead of banning bromate, since 1991 the FDA — with only partial success — has urged bakers to voluntarily stop using it.
Bromates have been banned in numerous countries, including the United Kingdom in 1990 and Canada in 1994. In addition, in 1991, California declared bromate a carcinogen under the state’s Proposition 65. Baked goods sold in California would have to bear a cancer warning if they contained more than a certain level of bromate. As a result, most California bakers have switched to bromate-free processes.
As low carbers, we generally eat far lower levels of flours that might contain bromates, far less bleached flours, and far less sugars filtered with bone ash, than the general public. But because most of us have friends and family members who do consume these products, it's a concern I feel we should all share.
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