HC Deb 05 February 1965 vol 705 cc335-7W
Sir Richard Glyn

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what additives are now allowed to be added to wheat flour and to bread at any stage of its production; if he will give particulars of the advisory body or bodies who are consulted before further additives are permitted; and when the possible effect of the combination of the total additives, whose use is now authorised by his Department, was last considered by these advisory bodies.

Mr. Hoy

Additives to Flour

Under Part III of the Bread and Flour Regulations, 1963, flour, other than wholemeal flour, may contain the following substances:—

  1. (a) certain bleaching and improving agents, i.e. ascorbic acid, potassium bromate, ammonium persulphate, potassium persulphate, monocalcium phosphate, chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide (not more than 50 p. p. m.);
  2. (b) caramel;
  3. (c) chlorine (flour intended for cake making);
  4. (d) sulphur dioxide (flour intended for biscuit making, not more than 200 p. p. m.).

All flour must contain specified quantities of iron, vitamin B1, and nicotinic acid or nicotinamide. If these are not naturally present, as they are in wholemeal flour, they must be added.

All flour, other than self-raising flour which has a calcium content of not less than 0.2 per cent., wholemeal flour and wheat malt flour, must contain specified quantities of chalk.

Additives to Bread

Under the Emulsifiers and Stabilisers in Food Regulations, 1962, the use of stearyl tartrate and partial glycerol esters is permitted in bread.

Under the Preservatives in Food Regulations, 1962, the use of propionic acid (not more than 3 parts per thousand on the weight of the flour) is permitted in bread.

Under Part II of the Bread and Flour Regulations, 1963, bread may contain the following additional ingredients:—

  1. (a) salt;
  2. (b) edible oils and fats;
  3. (c) milk and milk products;
  4. (d) sugar;
  5. (e) enzyme active preparations;
  6. (f) rice flour and soya bean flour (up to 2 parts per 100 of flour);
  7. (g) prepared wheat gluten and wheat germ;
  8. (h) poppy seeds, carraway seeds, cracked wheat and cracked or kibbled malted wheat;
  9. (i) cracked oat grain, oatmeal and oat flakes (up to 2 parts per 100 of flour);
  10. (j) yeast stimulating preparations;
  11. (k) acetic acid, vinegar, monocalcium phosphate, acid sodium pyrophosphate, lactic acid, potassium acid tartrate and sodium diacetate;
  12. (l) lecithin;
  13. (m) any substance used as an excipient or diluent of any of the ingredients mentioned above (up to 225 p. p. m. of flour);
  14. (n) caramel (bread other than white bread).

If any other ingredient is used (excluding any ingredient specifically prohibited by other legislation) its presence must be declared in the prescribed form.

It is, of course, an offence under the general provisions of the Food and Drugs Act to add any harmful substances to food.

The Food Additives and Contaminants Committee, which was formerly a Sub-Committee of the Food Standards Committee, advises my right hon. Friends on the use of our powers under the Food and Drugs Act to control the addition of substances to food. The Chairman of the Committee is Professor R. A. Morton, F. R. S., Ph.D., D. Sc., F.R.I.C., Johnston Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Liverpool. The Members are:—

  • Mr. R. De Giacomi, Editor of Food Processing and Marketing.
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  • Mr. W. A. Godby, M.B.E., F.R.I.C., Former Senior Experimental Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
  • Mr. N. Goldenberg, M.Sc., F.R.I.C., Chief Chemist of Marks and Spencer Ltd.
  • Dr. J. H. Hamence, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.I.C., F.C.S., Consultant Chemist, Public Analyst and Official Agricultural Analyst.
  • Professor J. Hawthorn, B.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.I.C., Professor of Food Science at the University of Strathclyde at Glasgow.
  • Dr. H. Jasperson, B.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.I.C., Head of the Research Department of Bibby and Sons Ltd. Of Liverpool.
  • Mr. E. I. Johnson, M.Sc., F.R.I.C., Laboratory of the Government Chemist.
  • Professor A. Kekwick, M.A., M.B., B.Ch., F.R.C.P., Director of the Institute of Clinical Research and Experimental Medicine at the Middlesex Hospital.
  • Dr. Patricia P. Scott, B.Sc., Reader in Physiology at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School.
  • Professor R. T. Williams, B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc., Professor of Biochemistry at St. Mary's Hospital School, London.

The Committee has constantly in mind the possible effects of a combination of permitted additives. The available evidence on additives in bread and flour was last considered by the Food Standards Committee, and the Committee's report was published in 1960. At that time the Committee was advised by the Food Additives and Contaminants Sub-Committee.

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