In another answer, I learned that some flour is not vegan because it may have been bleached with bone char.

When I'm shopping, what do I need to look for to ensure I'm getting vegan flour?

  • 3
    Also, watch out for L-Cysteine (E920), which is also often used. See Wikipedia
    – wythagoras
    Feb 1, 2017 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


If you happen to live in a place that demands trace chemicals to be described in the label, look for known inorganic oxidants:

  • Bromates or Iodates

  • Peroxides (calcium, magnesium, etc) and/or azodicarbonamide (also azo[bis]formamide)


  • Chlorine [dioxide|oxide] (ClO2) or Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

I couldn't find a picture because they are not mandatorily listed.

The reason why those agents are guaranteed to point to vegan flour is simple: they react strongly with organic matter. Adding animal products to the process would make them less effective and increase overall production costs.

If none of those agents are listed in a bleached flour, then it is likely to have been bleached by bone char, or a reductant chemical such as L-cysteine/L-cystine (produced from animal hair and feathers).

There is, however, a widely used inorganic oxidant that does not need to be listed in the package: oxygen (or, sometimes, just air). Regular air will whiten flour just as well, it just takes a lot longer to reach the right white. Flour whitened by either air or O2 are considered unbleached for legal purposes.

Alternatively, you can use non-whitened varieties of flour, such as whole wheat flour.

OBS: all of the above inorganic chemicals are known carcinogens, and, as such, might have been banned from your country.

  • I would be suspect of the riboflavin on that label too... Mar 22, 2017 at 10:13
  • Do you happen to know if brown bread is vegan? Aug 8, 2017 at 9:47
  • I can't find any resources online mentioning bleaching of flour with bone char can you refer me to some? Nov 1, 2017 at 17:46
  • 1
    I recently contacted a mill and was told that bleaching of flour is illegal in the European Union and Canada. Dec 30, 2017 at 17:27

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