Bread Health Concerns Baffle Consumers

Bread Health  Concerns Baffle  ConsumersBread Health  Concerns Baffle  Consumers

Bread a staple food for Iranians, has gone through modernization over the years but the traditional flatbread still remains the most popular type. With increased health concerns arising from food-related ailments, Iranians are trying to determine the healthiest choice for bread, traditional or industrial, Mehr News agency reports.

 Industrial versus Traditional

Industrial bread is the term given to any bread produced in large volumes in baking factories. White bread loaves can be baked in a factory as well as in small quantity by local bakeries. In the large-scale bread industry, most of the work is handled by machines rather than by manpower. However, traditional bread in Iran is baked in traditional style ovens and is called flatbread. Flatbread can also be produced in factories, as is being done in some countries such as Egypt and other Arab nations.

Mohammad Javad Karami, head of Tehran’s bread union believes that the “voluminous breads have better quality, durability and use of ingredients as compared to the flatbread, since they are baked by indirect heating. The absence of soda bicarbonate in the dough reduces gastric problems.”

Statistics indicate there are 580 “voluminous” bread manufacturing units in Tehran and 3800 in the entire country.

 Preferred Choice

Figures show that 90% of Iranians prefer the traditional flatbread, consumption of which is 165 kilograms per person, almost thrice of Europe’s average per capita bread consumption. But health and food experts maintain that Iran’s bread is of inferior quality.

Hedayat Hosseini, director of monitoring and evaluation of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says there are more than 60,000 active bakeries, making it impossible to monitor all and close down the non- complying units. The ‘workshop supervision certificate’ he said, is issued only to those bakeries that comply with minimum required standards set by the ministry of health and medical education. Noting that many bakeries are not qualified for the certificate, Hosseini expressed hoped that on completion of the supervision process, 70% of the issues related to bakeries would be resolved.

 Packaged Bread

Zohre Pourahmad, an expert from the general directorate for food and drinks at the FDA said “packaged bread without the health ministry’s approval is not allowed for distribution.” Stating that there are two two types of approvals issued by the FDA for production and distribution of bread in large and medium sized units, the expert said factories must have permanent technical staff and follow the norms of hygiene as per the FDA guidelines.

As for the quality of manufactured bread, Pourahmad said it must comply with good manufacturing practices (GMP) set by the FDA. The “heavy metal and chemicals used in the bread must meet the regulations and standards set by the FDA. It must also be ensured that the fermentation process has taken place and the dates of manufacturing and expiry should be printed on the packaging,” she added.

Issuing the ‘workshop supervision certificate’ was started only 1-2 years ago, Pourahmad said and pointed out that supervision of bakeries “is taken seriously by the FDA and the bakeries have also welcomed the move.”