News Real Bread Campaign

100% Wholemeal? Update

Three months after the Real Bread Campaign wrote to Defra on the issue of industrial loaf fabricators using refined flour in loaves marketed as ‘wholemeal’, the department has replied.

The white stuff. Chris Young

The white stuff. Chris Young

On 29 March 2018, the Real Bread Campaign wrote:

We have found that a number of industrial loaf manufacturers list as an ingredient what appears to be refined flour in loaves named and marketed using the word wholemeal. As such we believe that some or all of them may be in breach of regulation 6 of the Bread and Flour Regulations (1998).

Of the nine companies we have contacted, those that have responded have denied any breach, based upon interpretations of what is and isn’t an ingredient.
Please advise who at Defra is the current appropriate point of contact for us to send details of what we have found for official guidance on whether they, or we, are interpreting the regulations correctly?

On 31 July 2018, Defra’s Ministerial Contact Unit replied:

Defra is still of the view that concerns about individual products should always be referred to the appropriate enforcement authority for their consideration and this is a matter primarily for trading standards.

It is clear that Regulation 6(1)(a) of the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 prohibits the use of the descriptor 'wholemeal' unless all the flour used as an ingredient in the preparation of the bread is wholemeal. Your email suggests that there are some products being marketed as wholemeal breads which contain flours of less than 100% extraction, and this would in our view appear to be a breach of regulation 6(1)(a) if this is the case. This is an offence under the Bread and Flour Regulations and a matter for enforcement authorities to take forward.

As Defra has previously offered, we encourage you to provide some further detail on how widespread a practice this is and whether it is focussed on the larger bakeries or smaller craft bakeries. If you are aware of particular products then you could bring such cases to the attention of Trading Standards to further investigate.

If it is indeed a more widespread problem then Defra may consider dealing with it in more detail within our existing guidance notes. We could also bring it to the attention of enforcement authorities more generally through the Food Standards Agency, who have a responsibility for enforcement issues and to food business operators more generally.

The Real Bread Campaign responded by sending details of loaves marketed by nine companies as ‘wholemeal’ that declare refined wheat flour on ingredients lists.

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