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Home: Information and Discussion: Conscious Consumption:
L-cysteine in bagels, bleah

 



Lisa
Artsy Tartsy


Jun 2, 2009, 4:42 PM
Post #1 of 14 (13433 views)
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L-cysteine in bagels, bleah Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

One of those pesky ingredients that can be veg but also might not be is L-cysteine, which is used as a dough conditioner.

Synthetic and vegan forms are available, but according to this article by the Vegetarian Resource Group, they're more expensive and therefore aren't as widely used as those derived from human hair, duck feathers, and other fun stuff.

After reading conflicting information online, I contacted Einstein Bros. Bagels and Dunkin' Donuts to find out once and for all whether their bagels are vegan-safe.

Here's the highly unenlightening response from DD: "Our product nutritional information including allergy data is available on our website www.dunkindonuts.com. We post all the available information on the website, unfortunately we do not have any further details on the L-Cysteine."

And Einstein's helpful but unfortunate answer: "The l-cysteine that we use is derived from duck feathers. I hope that makes your choices easier at our stores." My favorite flavor, sun-dried tomato, doesn't contain L-cysteine, though.

So bagel lovers, beware. I don't know how prevalent the use of this ingredient is in mom-and-pop bagel shops; maybe they offer some options. Unfortunately, those shops are in very short supply in my town.


tempest
Cat Dancer


Jun 2, 2009, 6:54 PM
Post #2 of 14 (13424 views)
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Re: [Lisa] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

thanks for that info! I remember reading somewhere about Einstein, but I wouldn't have remembered which ingredient.

So frustrating, as bagels always seemed like the easy safe food. At least there is one flavor that doesn't contain it. I'll keep that in mind.


amelia
Member


Jun 2, 2009, 7:29 PM
Post #3 of 14 (13420 views)
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Re: [Lisa] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

yes, i feel like a psycho any time i'm at a place that is trying to serve me bread that i know nothing about. my mom still doesn't understand why i won't eat the white flour tortilla shells in the closet: because they contain l-cysteine and i don't know where theirs came from! this site has a pretty good list of l-cyst and other things on a nutrition label that one may wonder about.


ursa minor
Mysterion


Jun 2, 2009, 10:01 PM
Post #4 of 14 (13413 views)
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Re: [amelia] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

That link said that L-cysteine is used as an "improving agent." What on Earth does that mean?? I'll wager that all kinds of baked goods are made every day without any kind of improving agent and they come out just fine.



Dragonfly
Granola Girl


Jun 3, 2009, 3:58 AM
Post #5 of 14 (13403 views)
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Re: [Lisa] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

Thanks for sharing this info. I've never eaten at Einstein and now I'm glad. Why do they have to ruin them that way?


amelia
Member


Jun 3, 2009, 10:35 AM
Post #6 of 14 (13393 views)
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Re: [ursa minor] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

haha that's what i'm wondering! what's wrong with flour and water?!


ursa minor
Mysterion


Jun 3, 2009, 11:01 AM
Post #7 of 14 (13390 views)
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Re: [amelia] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

Exactly. "Improving agent" tells me nothing. I have to wonder if it's jargon for "compensating for stale flour because it's cheaper to add this ingredient than it is to use fresh flour always"?


cayenne
Sgt. Pepper


Jun 3, 2009, 11:21 AM
Post #8 of 14 (13386 views)
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Re: [ursa minor] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

In Reply To:
Exactly. "Improving agent" tells me nothing. I have to wonder if it's jargon for "compensating for stale flour because it's cheaper to add this ingredient than it is to use fresh flour always"?


It probably means that they aren't giving the bread or bagels time to rise slowly, which adds flavor. But yeah.

I've noticed that the more local the place, the more simple the baked goods are, and even when they're baked by someone else and brought in (my favorite grocery store does this with some things), they tend to be local and simple. National chains are boring, too! It's too bad that that's all that's available to some people.


amelia
Member


Jun 3, 2009, 12:00 PM
Post #9 of 14 (13386 views)
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Re: [ursa minor] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

well i just did a quick little bit of wikipedia and google, and the wiki page says

Quote:
At the present time, the cheapest source of material from which food-grade L-cysteine may be purified in high yield is by hydrolysis of human hair. Other sources include feathers and pig bristles.[citations needed]The companies producing cysteine by hydrolysis are located mainly in China. There is some debate as to whether or not consuming L-cysteine derived from human hair constitutes cannibalism[citation needed]. Although many other amino acids were accessible via fermentation for some years, L-cysteine was unavailable until 2001 when German company Wacker Chemie introduced a production route via fermentation (non-human, non-animal origin).



so cheapness is definitely a factor. raise your hand if you're surprised, haha. i also found this site, which says

Quote:
Additives perform a variety of useful functions in foods that consumers often take for granted. Some additives could be eliminated if we were willing to grow our own food, harvest and grind it, spend many hours cooking and canning, or accept increased risks of food spoilage. But most consumers today rely on the many technological, aesthetic and convenient benefits that additives provide.



so laziness is also a factor. the first google site for the search "purpose of dough improving agents," though, is this patent site which says that improving agents were created to improve commercially sold frozen doughs, which i actually thought was funny because it reminded me of the time my friend brought a frozen loaf of challah to our house; it had been in her freezer for years, and you're supposed to take it out of the freezer and let it rise before you bake it. but it had been frozen for so long that when it defrosted it was just this sad, thin, limp piece of dough. it looked hysterical and it really showed how old it was, but it also makes me think now that it was because it was a kosher food and probably didn't contain these mysterious improving agents. i definitely feel more comfortable knowing why challah is not immortal.


(This post was edited by amelia on Jun 3, 2009, 12:02 PM)


fringy
Aunty Fringy


Jun 6, 2009, 10:17 AM
Post #10 of 14 (13318 views)
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Re: [ursa minor] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

In Reply To:
Exactly. "Improving agent" tells me nothing. I have to wonder if it's jargon for "compensating for stale flour because it's cheaper to add this ingredient than it is to use fresh flour always"?

A dough conditioner means to make it softer and more elastic, less the doorstop quality turned out by myself in the early whole wheat baking days. The hint I got that worked, is just add something acidic to the batch, like a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar, or if I have 'em and am making a savoury bread, a handful of 'sun dried' (dehydrated) tomato bits.


fringy
Aunty Fringy


Jun 6, 2009, 10:30 AM
Post #11 of 14 (13317 views)
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Re: [Lisa] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

Gone are the days I had time to research and write scads of letters protesting things like this. Those "highly unenlightening responses" and the inability to keep up with what crappy company bought up which company that used to practice conscious business standards, are the reason that I try now more than ever, to shop at one place where the buyer sees it as his job to keep up on these things. I felt so fortunate to have a great place in the next town over. That buyer is gone now, and they've got a young pup there who's not up to snuff. I'm educating/bugging him about all kinds of stuff. I bet he just loves me. So now I have a new issue to check up on at the store. I'll do a print out. Thanks for your post. I was unaware.


Dragonfly
Granola Girl


Jun 7, 2009, 6:50 AM
Post #12 of 14 (13293 views)
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Re: [Lisa] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

I started looking at other bread products packaging at the grocery the other day and noticed that L-cysteine was also in some tortillas. It's not something I really took notice of before. I think I'll just avoid anything with that ingredient all together since it's questionable. Really discouraging when you look at the whole picture because it looks like more products contain it than what we realize. I make the majority of my breads anyway and I think I'll just go back to making my own flour tortillas and bagels, too.


purplevegan
Mrs. Hound


Jun 10, 2009, 8:43 AM
Post #13 of 14 (13252 views)
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Re: [Dragonfly] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

We only ever buy New York Bakery bagels and they say vegan on the packaging


veganf
CEO, Disposable Aardvarks Inc


Aug 3, 2009, 4:27 AM
Post #14 of 14 (12946 views)
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Re: [Lisa] L-cysteine in bagels, bleah [In reply to] Can't Post - Read Only Forum!

In Reply To:
And Einstein's helpful but unfortunate answer: "The l-cysteine that we use is derived from duck feathers. I hope that makes your choices easier at our stores." My favorite flavor, sun-dried tomato, doesn't contain L-cysteine, though.


Yep, I only eat the sun-dried tomato.
I once send away for a complete DD ingredient list...frickin thing arrived in my mailbox almost the size of a book! Never ate there again.

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