Facts about bread and how it is made

Bread is a staple of the Irish diet. It is an important food that most people eat every day and are very happy to do so. However, some people are unsure whether bread is good for you and are concerned about some of the information they hear and read .

The fact of the matter is that bread is not bad for you. In fact, not only is it not bad for you, it is an affordable, nutritious source of food, that scientific evidence says is good to eat.

A recent scientific report relating to the consumption of white and wholemeal bread in Ireland published by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) ¹ *Report is the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) Report on the Pattern of White and Wholemeal Bread Consumption in Irish Adults and Pre-School Children, (September 2016). in 2016 concluded that white bread is a source of many important nutrients for Irish consumers. So, it’s not merely OK to eat white sliced bread, in fact, it’s good to eat it!


  • All bread, including white bread, is made from four key ingredients flour, yeast, a little salt and water.There are some added ingredients in the sliced white pan which play an important role in making a nutritious product that consumers can enjoy safely.
  • All ingredients present in the final loaf are listed on the label or wrapper of a sliced pan so consumers know exactly what they are eating.
  • Bread contains many nutrients such as iron, calcium and B vitamins. Some varieties are also fortified with vitamin D and seeds such as Chia, adding Omega 3 to the nutritional content; Organic white flour that is milled in the UK also contains calcium.
  • Bread is low in fat and low in sugar. A report by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance¹ (IUNA) found that white bread only contributes 1% to our daily fat and sugar intake.

Flour – Bleached & Unbleached: One of the most commonly heard false claims that is made about bread is that the flour in it has been bleached. This is false. All flour is unbleached in Europe and has been for the past 20 years. The European Union publishes a list of the chemicals that are considered safe and that are allowed in food. Bleaches are not on the list, so flour, or any other food with bleach in it, can’t be sold by any country in the European Union, including Ireland.

GM flour: There are also no genetically modified flours used in Ireland. Even if there were, they would have to be declared on the label, by law. All the ingredients are listed on the packaging of wrapped bread.

Flour additives: White flour often has vitamins added back in after milling. These vitamins are present in the part of the flour (the bran) that is removed to make both white and brown flour (they are still present in wholemeal flour). Sometimes Calcium is added too, as it is good for bone health. The fortification of flours (except wholemeal and some self-raising varieties) with calcium began in the early years of World War 2, in anticipation of a reduced supply of dairy products, and its addition continues today.

Fermentation process: All bread goes through a fermentation stage, when the yeast feeds on the simple sugars that are released from the starch in the flour due to the action of the enzymes. The yeast releases CO2 from these sugars, which then allows the bread to rise. Enzymes are naturally present in all flour. During fermentation, the bread flavours develop. For example, bacteria release lactic acid when making sourdough bread, and this gives it its unique flavour. The shorter the fermentation time, the less the flavours develop, which is why white sliced pan bread tastes different from sourdough or other breads made in the traditional fashion.

Recently, some questions have been asked regarding the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) and the exact effects it has on bread production. The CBP has been around for a long time and is simply a faster process of making dough in bread production. It reduces the fermentation time due to the high-speed mixing method. While the CBP adds some more enzymes to speed up the process, it is important to note that all flour contains enzymes anyway. Enzymes are proteins, simply natural biological catalysts. We have enzymes in our mouths in the form of amylase, which is the first stage of the digestion process as our body breaks down food. This is something that is taught in school science classes. During baking, the heat in the oven destroys the enzymes added through the CBP so they don’t exist in the final loaf and are therefore not listed on the packaging.

Fat Content

  • White and wholemeal bread are officially low in fat - take a look at the Nutritional Label on wrapped sliced pan to see g/100g.
  • All foods that have less than 3% fat are legally considered to be low fat.
  • No fat is added to white bread.


  • All ingredients present in the final loaf are listed on the label or wrapper of a sliced pan so consumers know exactly what they are eating.
  • Enzymes are not listed on the label as they are completely destroyed by the heat during baking and don’t exist in the final loaf. They are, therefore, regarded as processing aids and, in accordance with EU legislation, are not required to be included in the list of ingredients.