A number of professions claim old age in their pedigree, but few have a better claim than Wheat Millers. Since farming crops became one of the first global addictions, bread flours have been milled to create flavour, texture, quality and ascetic appearance.
While today a minute portion of the crop is milled by Artisan Bakers, the vast majority globally is milled by large industrial groups using similar processes and equipment.
Like Fish, Bread whiteness increases the value of flour based baked products, but there is an industrial equation of time versus whiteness which has to be balanced. Added to this, over milling reduces the food value of flour.
In the 1950's scientists began to use Spectroscopy to try and standardise flour grades. The theory was good, but in practice, instruments were unreliable, the measurement fiddly and inter-instrument agreement near impossible.
This gave birth to the so called "Ring Test" where batches from various sources could be correlated to a "Known" standard (Actually and arbitrarily selected standard) and the various batch readings "Adjusted" (Corrected) accordingly. Never satisfactory, this type of procedure lasts up to the present day, although proper colour measurements have been carried out for decades by some Millers in some countries.
Some years back, South African Millers were fined for "Collusion" and while the merits of this is for another discussion, company's became weary of all using the same technology. This became the perfect time to introduce STANDARDISED rather than same systems to confirm with managements desire to be seen to be working above board.
Simply put, if millers could all use Kg to designate the weight of the packaging, the CIE L*a*b colour space norms could be used as well. A global colour standard, CIE is an independently controlled colour standard.
Years of research and tests carried out locally in South Africa validated that a mill can reliably across a number of mills, quickly and accurately grade batches to known "Standards".
To day this is a widely used accurate practice for precise and communicable colour grading data
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