Warning: ‘fermented wheat flour’ and ‘fermented wheat’ – unsafe for coeliacs (so far) OR unsafe for failsafers?

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The words “fermented wheat” on a label could soon refer to two completely different products – first as a possible coeliac-safe wheat flour, and second as a hidden preservative in bread.

For coeliacs

Coeliacs and gluten-intolerant people have an inflammation response to gluten proteins in wheat.

Researchers having been looking at breaking down these proteins by fermentation - such as sourdough, other long fermentation time processes or with chemicals - to reduce the reactions from coeliacs and gluten-intolerant people.

So far, the results have been inconclusive. However, Swedish researchers think that they are on to something and in the future, they may be able to use a combination of ascorbyl palmitate and zinc chloride as a gluten detoxifying additive to create celiac-safe flour products.

Engstrom N and others, Towards Celiac-safe foods: Decreasing the affinity of transglutaminase 2 for gliadin by addition of ascorbyl palmitate and ZnCl2 as detoxifiers, Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 6;7(1):77. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-00174-z. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427931/

As a preservative

Perhaps to deliberately confuse the issue, ‘fermented wheat flour’ and ‘fermented wheat’ are also added as ingredients to breads as a mould inhibitor.

These have been fermented with propioniibacteria to produce propionates that are chemically identical to the bread preservatives 280-283 but without having to be identified on the label as additives.

For example, one manufacturer claims “Our range of fermented wheat has a proven track record of successfully replacing preservatives such as vinegar or calcium propionate in bread and cake.”  www.holgran.co.uk/fermented-wheat-flours.html

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The bottom line for failsafers

Avoid all foods which list ‘cultured’ ingredients such as cultured wheat, rice, flour, corn, and those which list ‘fermented’ ingredients where it is suspected that they may be hidden additives.

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