Vegetable charcoal bread: is it really good for you?

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Joe Dispenza

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nerissimo and other baked goods made with the addition of charcoal, have conquered consumers despite the prohibitive price (6-8 € per kilo). "They are good and good for your health," says those who have tasted them. But it's true? Here's what you need to know. 

What is that?

«Vegetable carbon is a black, porous powder that it is obtained by treating with high pressure steam and high temperature wood fibers which have previously been subjected to pyrolysis, a sort of combustion without oxygen ”, explains food technologist Giorgio Donegani. 

È sicuro?

In the United States its addition to foods is prohibited. The motivation is that may contain potentially carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). "EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), on the other hand, argues that as a food coloring (called E 153), charcoal can be used without risk, provided that any PAHs present are less than 1 microgram per kilo", Dario points out. Dongo, a lawyer expert in food law. 

What foods can it be added to?

The law allows its use in "fine baked goods”, A very broad category of sweet and savory foods (such as biscuits, cakes, muffins, cereal bars, bread sticks, crackers, rusks), which however excludes bread. "The dye is then allowed in other foods (cheeses, crustaceans, smoked fish) and can be sold directly, again for culinary use (therefore, if desired, it can be used for home-made bread) », explains Dongo. There is no limit not to be exceeded, thereand standards simply indicate to use "just enough" (10-15 g per kilo of flour is the suggestion on the packaging of the dye sold directly).

Does it have beneficial virtues?

“Activated carbon contributes to the reduction of excessive post-prandial flatulence”: Is the written authorized by the European Union for foods containing 1 gram per serving, and must be accompanied by the indication for consumption (1 g at least 30 minutes before a meal and 1 g immediately after). But in recent days our Ministry of Health has specified that the sale of charcoal foods, which boast health benefits, is to be considered illegal, because these products fall within the so-called "novel food" for which a prior authorization is required, which at the moment is not there.

Better pills?

«We cannot exclude that“ black ”breadsticks & Co. may have effects comparable to that of charcoal in pills»Says , a nutritionist. "But if the purchase of these products is motivated not so much by curiosity as by health problems (aerophagia, meteorism, flatulence), I recommend to prefer supplements, which cost even less (on average 6-7 and for 50 capsules). "But be careful", warns our expert: "They must be taken under medical supervision and for limited periods because they can reduce the effectiveness of drugs (if you are taking them), hinder the assimilation of nutrients and alter the balance of the intestinal flora ».

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