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Reducing Agent. Any chemical that removes oxygen from a compound, or increases its negative valence, or adds one or more electrons (q.v.) to it. In dough processing, the major function of a reducing agent is to split the disulfide bonds (-SS-) (q.v.) in flour proteins (q.v.) that link adjacent polypeptide chains (q.v.). By creating two dissociated sulfhydryl groups (-SH) (q.v.), it causes the dough to become more pliable and extensible. Compounds used for this reaction include L-cysteine (q.v.), sodium bisulfite (q.v.) and sorbic acid (q.v.).