TEST RESULTS FOR PHYSICOCHEMICAL PARAMETERS
Protein | Gluten | Dietary Fibre | Carbohydrates | Calorific Value | Acid-Insoluble Ash | Pesticide Residues | Heavy Metal (Lead) | Aflatoxins | Uric Acid | Crude Fibre | Moisture | Total Ash | Alcoholic Acidity
Protein Protein is inherently found in wheat flour. However, the national standards have not specified any requirement for protein in wheat flour. • Protein quantity was highest in Hathi (11.91 per cent) and lowest in Rajdhani (9.98 per cent).
Protein is an essential nutrient. It plays an important role in cellular maintenance, growth and functioning of the human body.
Gluten Gluten is the wheat’s natural protein, and it’s what gives the dough elasticity, strength and gas-retaining properties. As per FSS Regulations, gluten in wheat flour should not be less than 6.0 per cent by weight; as per Agmark, it should be a minimum 7 per cent for standard grade and a minimum 9 per cent for special grade.
• All brands adhered to the specified conditions.
Dietary fibre Wheat flour contains dietary fibres and prohealth vitamins in abundance. However, as yet no requirement has been specified in the national standards for dietary fibre in wheat flour.
• Dietary fibre was found highest in Reliance (10.28 per cent) and lowest in Shakti Bhog (8.13 per cent).
Dietary fibre has many health benefits. It can reduce one’s risk for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, and also help in weight control. High dietary fibre content helps in easy digestion and relieving.
Carbohydrates Carbohydrates are a major component of wheat flour. They are therefore expected to be high in wheat flour. As yet, no requirement for carbohydrates in wheat flour has been specified in the national standards.
• Carbohydrate was highest in Reliance (76.03 per cent) and lowest in Kendriya Bhandar (72.90 per cent).
Carbohydrates are a source of energy. They are the sugars, starches and fibres found in fruits, grains and vegetables and milk products.
As per Indian Standard, acid-insoluble ash content in wheat flour shall not be more than 0.10 per cent; as per FSS Regulations, it shall not be more than 0.15 per cent (on dry-weight basis). All 10 brands conformed to the specified limit.
Acid-insoluble ash indicates the presence of sand, dirt and dust.
Calorific (Energy) Value
Calorific value is the amount of calories that our body obtains from food. For calorific value of wheat flour, there is no requirement prescribed in the national standards. We have considered a higher quantity to be better.
Calorific value was highest in Kanak (369.33 kcal/100 gm ) and lowest in Kendriya Bhandar (355.10 kcal/100 gm).
We tested the wheat flour brands for 150 pesticides. FSS Regulations have specified the maximum permissible limit for individual pesticides.
• One pesticide, copper oxychloride, was detected in all the brands but it was within the specified limit (maximum 20 mg/kg). None of the other pesticides was found in any brand (up to the detection limit). Thus, all brands are safe for consumption.
Heavy Metal (Lead)
The permissible limit for lead in wheat flour is 2.5 mg/kg.
• Lead was not detected in any of the brands.
Aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2)
As per FSS Regulations, aflatoxins shall not exceed 15 g/kg. Aflatoxins were not detected in any of the brands, making them safe for consumption.
Aflatoxins are a kind of toxin or poison produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus. When animals or humans consume these compounds, they may produce severe undesirable health effects.
Uric acid of wheat flour increases as infestations increase. As per Agmark, it should not be more than 100 mg/kg.
• Uric acid was below the detection limit in all brands.
Maintaining low uric acid levels may help guard against certain types of kidney stones, as well as gout – a painful form of arthritis.
As per the national standards, crude fibre content of wheat atta shall not be more than 2.5 per cent.
• Crude fibre in all brands fell within the specified limit.
Crude fibre is a measure of the quantity of indigestible cellulose, pentosans, lignin and other components of this type present in food. Crude fibre helps in the treatment and prevention of constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticulitis.
Moisture is an indicator of grain storability. Wheat or flour with high moisture content (greater than 14.5 per cent) attracts mould, bacteria and insects, all of which cause deterioration during storage. Wheat flour with low moisture content is more stable during storage.
As per FSS Regulations, moisture content in wheat flour shall not be more than 14 per cent by weight.
• Moisture content in all brands was within the specified limit.
Total ash includes essential minerals and some unwanted materials in the flour. It is determined by burning a given quantity of flour under prescribed conditions and measuring the residue. As per the national standards, total ash in wheat flour shall not be more than 2.0 per cent by weight.
Total ash in all brands was within the specified limit.
Higher alcoholic acidity is an indicator of higher acidity of the germ oil in the flour. As per FSS Regulations, alcoholic acidity in wheat flour shall not be more than 0.18 per cent by weight; as per Indian Standard, it shall not be more than 0.1 per cent.
All brands were within the specified limits.