Chinese Human Hair Made Into Bread?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

hairFact: A common ingredient in breads is derived from human hair harvested in China.

If you read the ingredients label on a loaf of bread, you will usually find an ingredient listed there as L-cysteine. This ingredient is a non-essential amino acid which is added to many baked goods as a dough conditioner. This speeds up the industrial processing. It’s usually not added directly to flour intended for home use, but you’ll find it throughout commercial breads such as pizza dough, bread rolls and pastries.

While some L-cysteine is directly synthesized in laboratories, most of it is extracted from a cheap and abundant natural protein source: human hair from China.

The Hair Collector and his Hair Storage

The Hair Collector and his Hair Storage

The following video tells the story of how Chinese human hair is made into bread. (The video is in German but you should be able to get the point). A German team of reporters travel to China and visit several hair dressers until they meet the “hair collector”. He buys cut hair for about 10 kuai (€1.20 or $1.60) per bucket. Long hair is made into wigs and the collector can make 60€ per kilogram ($80 or 500 RMB) for long hair! A lot of money for the Chinese. But the short hair is used for something else…

The short hair is bought by a bigger firm and brought to a special factory where it is carefully sorted and cleaned up. The people who work at this factory earn more money than working in the fields. But it’s still not very healthy work. The dust coming from the hair can be very dangerous for the workers’ health.

Several tonns of hair are worked with in this factory each day. When everything is cleaned and trash is sorted out, the hair is pressed and delivered to a chemical factory. Arrived at this factory, the hair is made into liquids. Then, this liquid is bleached and neutralized.


This processes brings about the amino acid L-cysteine. Finally, it is made into a fine powder. The last step is to pack the powder and sell it to the food and chemical industry.

The last part of the video shows a huge bakery where this L-cysteine powder is used in all of their products because it makes the dough softer and easier to work with. In Europe, L-cysteine is also used in the food industry, however, since 2013 it is forbidden to use L-Cysteine made of human hair. They now usually use pigs bristles to make L-cysteine (Is that any better?).

Lastly, the reporters go back to the hair dresser and tell one customer about the Chinese hair in bread. She is disgusted and never wants to eat bread again. And the message: “We will not eat Chinese bread in the future either!”, i.e. Chinese products are disgusting and filthy. Seriously?


Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

No Comments

  1. Suigetsu on November 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Why is human hair not harvested anywhere else? Anyway, I will never eat bread again.

    • lindalindsch on November 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      haha i guess its like most things: its cheaper in China

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