News / Real Bread Campaign

Honest Crust Act: A step closer?

Defra set to review Bread and Flour Regulations following 12 years of Real Bread Campaign lobbying.

Freshly baked but was it made from scratch here today? Chris Young / CC-BY-SA 4.0

Freshly baked but was it made from scratch here today? Chris Young / CC-BY-SA 4.0

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After more than a dozen years of calling for improved loaf labelling and marketing laws in the UK, and two and a half years since the government promised us such a review, the Real Bread Campaign has been invited to join the new Bread and Flour Technical Working Group (BFTWG). 

In the invitation, Defra stated: “The BFTWG will be comprised of a small group of stakeholders that represent a cross section of the bread and flour supply chain that have broad issue coverage and representation.” It went on to say: “The purpose will be to look into and resolve issues relating to the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998. Firstly we hope it will help inform Defra’s review of the regulations but in the longer term we are hoping it can be convened as and when needed.”

A follow up message added: "Defra alongside Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland, Food Standards Agency Wales and Food Standards Scotland who are responsible for Food Compositional Standards policy in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have agreed under the Food compositional standards and labelling provisional common framework to jointly conduct a review on the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 and the Bread and Flour Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1998 and have formed and internal working group for this purpose."

The first BFTWG meeting will be in late September 2021, though Defra has yet to detail the exact scope of the group. We will be taking this opportunity to present, yet again, our calls for an Honest Crust Act to help create a more level playing field on which SME bakeries have a better chance to thrive, and to protect the rights of shoppers to be able to make better-informed choices.

Real Bread Campaign co-ordinator Chris Young said: “I’m pleased that our persistence is paying off. Thank you to Campaign supporters who enable us to keep going, and to Grahame Morris, other MPs and friends who help us to keep these important issues on the table."

Who's around the table?

Defra advised that the organisations and companies they have  invited to be part of the group are:

  • Association Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers (ABIM)
  • British Retail Consortium (BRC)
  • Cereal Ingredient Manufacturers Association (CIMA)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department of Health and Social Care
  • Department of Health Northern Ireland
  • Federation of Bakers (FoB)
  • Food and Drink Federation (FDF)
  • Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland
  • Food Standards Agency Wales
  • Food Standards Scotland
  • National Farmers Union (NFU)
  • Prior Consulting (representing Mills Section of SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) and the Traditional Cornmillers Guild)
  • Real Bread Campaign
  • Scottish Government
  • Snack, Nut and Crisp Manufacturers Association (SNCMA)
  • Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)
  • Trading Standards
  • UK Flour Millers
  • The Grain and Feed Trade Association
  • Welsh Government
  • Which?

They also invited the following companies:

  • AB Mauri UK & Ireland
  • Allied Technical Centre
  • Lesaffre UK & Ireland
  • Omya
  • Premier Foods

Note that not all will necessarily accept the invitations and that others might be invited to join the group at a later date.

We will do our best to report on the progress of our proposals, however the BFTWG is being run under Chatham House Rules - ie we won't be able to say who said what at the meetings. Furthermore, Defra has stated: 'We strongly discourage publishing information relating to the BFTWG in the public domain since this is not the spirit of the forum, is likely to discourage open discussions and could result in discussion content and / or group membership having to be curtailed.'

5 November 2021: The second meeting of the group focussed on practical matters around the forthcoming mandatory addition, and labelling, of folic acid in most UK-milled flour. Implementation is likely to be 2023 at the earliest. Possible exceptions were also discussed.

22 September 2021: The first meeting was to agree terms of reference and scope for the group. The Real Bread Campaign coordinator was pleased that all of our Honest Crust Act proposals were on the table for discussion, though came away with a feeling that some in the group were keen to see some or all of our proposals swept off it as soon as possible. It was suggested that there might be more appropriate places to discuss them than the forum set up to discuss regulatory matters pertaining to bread and flour...

16 September 2021: ahead of the first meeting of the BFTWG, we submitted to Defra our proposed key improvements to the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998, and other relevant legislation.

See also

Just a selection of more recent updates on this 12 year + mission:

Published 10 Aug 2021

Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.

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