Page 1, 7th August 1942

7th August 1942
Page 1
Page 1, 7th August 1942 — From a Special Correspondent.

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People: John Orr


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From a Special Correspondent.

Let Me start With the flat statement that denatured white bread, as compared either with National bread of 85 per cent, extraction with an uncertain quantity of the wheat germ included, or far more forcibly as cornpared with whole-grain bread, is demonstrably inferior. This is proved by the efforts of the Ministry made in the early days of the war to restore one or more of the constituents of which white flour had been deprived by the millers in the process of milling.

I can safely dogmatise no that since for once the overworked phrase that " all authorities are agreed " is true. They are agreed. Whole-grain bread is a vital and valuable faod. Bread from which the wheat germ has been removed is enormously inferior. That is that, and there can he no argument about it.

The term " whole-grain " should be substituted for the usual term " wholemeal," because this has lost any definite meaning, owing to having become a " trade term." It is often synonymous with " brown " bread, which l may be merely white bread artifide Ily coloured.

Before the war this simple truth was beginning to dawn on the nation, which was becoming dietetieelly educated. The public had heard about vitamins, mineral salts and the reet of it, and it was obvious to the millers—who form one of the most compact and powerful trusts in the country—that something had got to be done.


Unfortunately, both for the public and the millers, a simple return to whole-grain bread would have meant a huge loss of profit. The invention of the steel roller mills some fifty years ago had given to the millers the opportunity of making vast profits by selling off the vital products of wheat to a specialised market. These by-products they shrewdly described as " offal," but they were in fact the hest part of the grain. Since they already possessed wonderful machinery lor this purpose they. had no intention of scrapping it, and at the same time depriving themselves of additional profits which it enabled them to make. Accordingly, the Millers' Mutuel Association, which means aIl the millers that matter, gathered together in council. The British had gone vitamin-conscious; vitamins they should have. A fifteen-year monopoly was granted to the firm of Roche Products, Ltd.. for the manufacture on the millers' behalf of synthetic vitamin 11.1, Actually, the modern milling process removes at least ten different vitamins from wheaten flour, hut the millers felt that they need not overdo things, and to put back one synthetically manufactured vitamin would be enough to go on with.

Well, the war came, and with it the urgent problem of shipping. It was made clear to every child by people like Sir John Orr that we should have to change our diet. and that the first thing to do was to consume much more of the ,fruits of the earth directly instead of first converting them into animal flesh, The most obvious step was to go back to owexpedient in the last war and revert to bread which utilised as much as was possible of the wheatgrain, but this was not done. Instead, out of the blue sky, we were suddenly informed that the Goverruneet had decided, on the advice of two nonmedical biochemists. without any consultation with the medical profession, to do something wholly epoch-making and revolutionary, something that would open a new chapter in the history of the human race. It was going to introduce vitaminised bread.


It subsequently transpired (my facts can all be verified from Hansard) that science had been called in exactly six weeks before the decision was announced in the House of Commons, and that there were only two scientific advisers who had been consulted at all, of whom one was the director of the Millers' Research Institute. while the other had actually published conclusions that were almost wholly irreconcilable with the Government's policy.

One thing was never mentioned at the Limit, namely, that the whole scheme had been initiated for ordinary business reasons some months before the war broke out, that large sums of capital had been sunk in bringing it to maturity, and that the former chairman of the firm which had obtained the fifteen-year monopoly for the synthetic manufacture of vitamin 13.1 was the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food who, of course, had resigned his chairmanship on taking up his official duties.


It is impossible to begin the volumes which might be written on the subject, but there is one further simple fact which ought to be widely known. There is now no published specification of what is or what is not National floor. True the vitaminised bread business now belongs to the forgotten past. We have, under compulsion, to cat bread 85 per cent. extraction, and we piously hope that it contains the wheat germ—but we have no means of satisfying ourselves on the point. Since there is no specification no legal authority can move in the matter, since it cannot proceed against the supplier for not supplying what has never been defined. The Lambeth Public Health Committee have for this reason been asked to be relieved of their Drugs Ausibcitlities under the Food and Instead of a definition there is an Order enjoining the millers to put in the maximum amount of wheat germ " has.litg regard to the machinery employed." This, of course, means that the millers can really put in whatever they please, and there is still a lucrative market for wheat germ.

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