La Brea Bakery bread is pretty easy to find around these parts, which is a good thing because decent bread can still be hard to come by in the supermarket (HFCS, anyone?). I was examining their ingredients recently and decided to drop them a line about their use of “sour cultures.” From initial research, I found that sour cultures are usually plant-derived in the US but can be derived from animal sources. I also asked which of their breads were explicitly vegan. Here is an excerpt from their initial response:
All of our products contain natural strains of yeast and beneficial bacteria. These are generally listed on our ingredient declaration as sour culture. A number of products use honey. This again will be stated on the label. We have a seasonal product called Chocolate Cherry Round which contains butter. Finally we have recently introduced some products containing cheese. Each of these ingredients will be clearly listed in the ingredient declaration on the bag if present in the product. There are no animal derivatives in the flour bleaching agents. We use unbleached wheat flour as our main bulk flour.
Our products are made on cross functional production lines so products suitable for Vegans are made on the same production lines as products containing some of the ingredients above. There is a detailed clean down of each line following a production run containing any of the above ingredients. We do have a number of Home-Bake products which are sold frozen by the retailer and can be baked off at home.
I was still unclear on the source of their “natural strains of yeast and beneficial
bacteria,” so I replied asking for clarification. Less than 20 minutes later, I got this response:
With reference to your query regarding the origin of the yeast and bacterial strains used in our breads I would like to inform you that back in 1988 they were originally propagated from Organic grapes. The strains have been maintained using flour and water since then. I hope to have been of assistance.
Just thought I’d pass this on for others that may be searching for detailed info about the sources of (admittedly trace) ingredients of La Brea Bakery’s very tasty bread.