By the Whole Food Society of England
Summary: A British perspective on the bleaching of flour in the year 1955. At that time, a new flour bleach, chlorine dioxide, was being introduced because the old bleach, nitrogen trichloride, or agene, had been shown to clearly be a nerve toxin in dogs. The authors point out that the official ban of agene came ten years after the results of the dog experiment were made known and five years after an announcement by the country’s Ministries of Food and Health officially condemning the substance. Why the long delay between identifying agene as a poison and barring it from the market? Simple, the article says: the millers needed time to come up with a new bleach. Rather than putting public health at the forefront and discontinuing the practice of flour bleaching altogether, the government and milling industry decided to continue the process because bleaching makes flour look appealing. Thus, after feeding the public for decades an additive whose safety had always been questionable, a new questionable additive was selected, and the bleached-flour industry kept rolling right along. From The Farmer. Reprint 78, 1955.