Hair – Bread – Not Something You Think About Together | FBA Inspection

Hair – Bread – Not Something You Think About Together

If you read the ingredients label of a package of bread, you will nearly always come across an ingredient named L-cysteine. It is a non-essential amino acid added to many baked goods as a dough conditioner in order to speed up industrial processing and is therefore not usually added directly to flour intended for home use.

While some L-cysteine is directly synthesized in laboratories, most of it is simply extracted from a cheap and abundant natural protein source: human hair. The hair is dissolved in acid, and the specific protein needed is isolated. Other sources of L-cysteine include chicken feathers, cow horns and petroleum byproducts.

While the thought of eating dissolved hair might make some people uneasy, most Western consumers ultimately have no principled objections to doing so. For Jews and Muslims, however, hair-derived L-cysteine poses major problems. Muslims are forbidden from eating anything derived from a human body, and many rabbis forbid hair consumption for similar reasons.

Even rabbis who permit the consumption of hair would forbid it if it came from corpses — and since much L-cysteine comes from China, where sourcing and manufacturing practices are notoriously questionable, this is a real concern. In one case, a rabbi forbade the consumption of L-cysteine because the hair had been harvested during a ritual at a temple in India.

Image: Pexels

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