Does That "No Maida Added" Atta Pack Really Contain Whole Wheat Flour?

Now a days it is in fashion for some wheat flour producers in India to claim that "No Maida Is Added" to their product. As we know it, Atta in Indian parlance refers to whole wheat flour and Maida refers to refined wheat flour. Therefore, when a producer of Atta claims that "No Maida Is Added" to their product, it should mean that the product is whole wheat flour and not refined wheat flour. Well, life in India is no longer that simple. I have eaten whole wheat roti and chapati all my life and can tell you this for sure: If you believe that "No Maida Added" Atta is whole wheat flour, you are making a mistake. Interestingly, these Atta producers who make this "No Maida Added" claim also claim that the Atta they sell will result in softer roti & chapati. One very prominent FMCG company comes to mind. Recently I was looking to buy a small pack of wheat flour in Bengaluru and could find 1 KG packing of the Atta produced by this company only. I generally do not trust this company and bought their Atta grudgingly. The "No Maida Added" claim was stamped on the pack. I almost knew I was getting cheated but at that time I needed to buy a small pack of Atta and there was no other choice. Keep reading...

Wheat Floor

"No Maida Added" Is a Mischievous Claim

When I got home and opened that "No Maida Added" wheat flour pack, all I found inside was Maida and nothing else. It was almost milky white, like it had been bleached, there was no brownish tint of the wheat bran, and the Atta was too smooth to feel just like Maida would. My doubt had been confirmed. "No Maida Added" was really a mischievous claim. They had not added Maida to the wheat flour but instead removed most the bran from the whole wheat flour thus leaving mostly Maida behind. Technically speaking, their claim was right - they had not added any Maida to the flour. And there was no claim or disclaimer regarding how much bran had been removed from the whole wheat flour, thus there was no misrepresentation and the company was on a sound legal footing.

Are Their Customers Ignorant?

Do the customers of this company care so much about softer roti and chapati that they would rather buy a fiber-less Atta than whole wheat? And do they really know or believe that whole wheat flour cannot result in a soft chapati? This FMCG company certainly thinks so.

Let Us Be Clear About The Difference Between Atta And Maida

Whole wheat flour contains all the three parts of the wheat grain - the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Bran, the outer layer contains much of the fiber, vitamin B and phytochemicals. The germ is the second layer under the bran and contains vitamins B and E, phytochemicals and minerals. What remains is the inner-most starchy part which is the bulk of the grain and if ground alone, would be nothing but Maida. Simply put, if all the three parts of the grain are present in a flour, I would call it wheat flour or Atta. And when a refining process takes out the fiber and leaves only starch behind, I would call that Maida. Now let us know the concept of 'APF'.

What Is All Purpose Flour?

This is a western concept. All purpose flour is a highly refined and bleached wheat flour product that results in prefect pancakes which are made by adding milk, eggs, butter, soda, and salt to the all purpose flour. There is very little fiber in 'all purpose flour' because fiber will not let pancakes to come out as desired. But do we buy Atta to make pancakes in India? No, we buy Atta to make roti. Roti requires whole wheat flour or do you really like your roti be made out of Maida?

This "No Maida Added" FMCG company is a multi-national company. It would rather sell the same "all purpose flour" in India that sells in the US. The softer roti claim is just a ploy to misguide the Indian consumer. Obviously there are many industrial uses for wheat bran, like 100% bran breakfast cereals that are "good for health" and make a lot of money for the manufacturers. First eat roti made from fiber-less flour and then buy a bran cereal to meet your fiber requirement. Isn't that a sweet deal for FMCG companies? But as smart consumers, why can't we buy whole wheat flour from which no fiber has been removed? A disclaimer from my side is required here. And that is the question: If it is really possible to buy 100% whole wheat Atta? Read on...

Its not. Because at the time of grinding, all the wheat bran does not get ground so well. Some part of it remains still too grainy and hence will not mix well in the rest of the Atta which has become adequately fine. They will not grind Atta twice to take care of the remaining bran. It is cheaper and efficient to just sieve the Atta and separate that excess bran. Sieving is not refining though. This genuine sieving still leaves whole wheat flour to be sold to the consumer. Remember that old neighbourhood Atta-chakki? They sold whole wheat flour. Now we do not see atta-chakki around us much but instead the wheat grinding happens in big factories where the manufacturers can do all sorts of mischief. After packing highly refined wheat flour in beautiful plastic bags, all they need to claim is that they never added any Maida to it. And they would be right.

Why Whole Wheat Atta Is Better Than Maida?

Writing anything on this will not be fair on my part. Please Google and you will find thousands of beautiful articles already written on why whole wheat flour is better than Maida from the health point of view. Also Read: Corn Flakes Are Neither 'Anaaj' Nor Healthy