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The Real Bread Campaign slams UK industrial loaf sector on ‘wholemeal’ and ‘wholegrain’ misuse

By Kacey Culliney , 27-Feb-2013
Last updated on 01-Mar-2013 at 13:28 GMT

Real Bread Campaign damns misleading wholemeal and wholegrain use in UK
Real Bread Campaign damns misleading wholemeal and wholegrain use in UK

The Real Bread Campaign has slammed UK industrial bread manufacturers on the misleading use of ‘wholemeal’ and ‘wholegrain’ and has called for meaningful legal definitions and robust regulation.

The calls follow an in-depth market report entitled ‘A Wholegrain Of Truth’ that investigated the content of industrial breads in the UK that make wholemeal (whole-wheat) or wholegrain claims.

The investigation was carried out in the second half of 2012 and looked at eleven UK bread manufacturers. The research went beyond ‘wholemeal’ and ‘wholegrain’ claims to products that implied similar nutritional benefits such as ‘wheatgrain’, ‘wholesome white’ and ‘goodness whole’n’white’.

When is a 'flour' not a flour?

Wholemeal et al…

The Real Bread Campaign report claimed that manufacturers are misleading consumers on wholemeal products with widespread use of soya flour and refined powdered wheat gluten included in what should be 100% wholemeal according to the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998.

“We believe that a mockery is being made of legislation designed to protect the integrity of nutritious and delicious wholemeal bread,” the report said.

Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com, Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young, who compiled the report, said: “We just think it’s ridiculous that this is being allowed to happen. It’s a real shame that a consumer who wants a pure wholemeal loaf is hard-pressed to find that in a supermarket.”

He said that the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had told the campaign that flour must be a product of a cereal grain, therefore soya flour (a product of the legume) does not fall into this definition.

“This is a ridiculous and confusing loophole in the law,” Young said.

A teaspoon of wholegrain 

A whole unregulated problem?

The Real Bread Campaign also said that in light of no legislation on wholegrain uset in the UK or EU, content was regularly low and sometimes non-existent in breads making wholegrain claims.

Findings from the report showed that one ‘White & Wholegrain’ loaf contained 6% wholegrains and another listed no unrefined ingredients on the label.

“You could effectively throw a teaspoon of whole flour into a bread mix and label it as wholegrain because technically it contains the ingredient,” Young said.

“The problem too, is that consumers are often paying a premium for these products."

Legal definitions and regulation a must

“We want clarification – we want the law to be tightened up. Regulation means that everyone knows where they stand – you have a level playing field.”

Young said that the call is for regulation as opposed to voluntary measures, which he said have often failed to achieve real change in the food industry.

The Real Bread Campaign has called for a legal definition on ‘wholegrain’ that includes a minimum percentage of unrefined grain content that can be used along with a requirement for manufacturers to display the percentage front-of-pack.

“We don’t think levels are for us to decide as a campaign but it needs to be meaningful and the decision should involve nutritionists – we want someone who has an expert opinion,” Young said.

It also called for a review to legislate and define other words like ‘wholesome’, ‘wheatgrain’, ‘goodness’ and ‘whole’ or prohibit use entirely.

It said a “more robust” legal definition is needed for ‘wholemeal’ to ensure that nothing more than 100% wheat flour, water, yeast and salt is used. It noted that refined grain products like wheat gluten or soya flour should not be permitted.

No shift yet

The Real Bread Campaign said that Defra and all seven trading standards departments contacted on the above matters believed no issue required further action.

It also said that the Federation of Bakers declined to answer questions put forward.

BakeryandSnacks.com spoke to the director of the Federation of Bakers to get its viewpoint on the report. See HERE .

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