News Real Bread Campaign

Trading standards running on empty?

Real Bread Campaign calls for investment.

Time for a top up. Credit: CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0

Time for a top up. Credit: CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0

Since June 2022, the Real Bread Campaign has been pursuing cases of companies using the word ‘wholemeal’ to market products made with white flour, in apparent contravention of the Bread and Flour Regulations. In their latest response, a trading standards officer investigating one of the cases wrote:

“Unfortunately we have been unable to progress. Trading Standards department have seen budget cuts of more than 50%, some argue that they have been cut more than any other local or central government function, despite many of their functions, such as food labelling, being statutory functions.

This has now reached the point where the Food Standards Agency has identified a critical shortage in Food Safety and Food Standards inspectors. Demands on these functions have increased several fold, and all local authorities are under financial pressures.

This means that difficult decisions on where resources are focused, our current priorities being around the safety of foods, the presence of undeclared allergens and foods which contain harmful contaminants and chemicals.”

Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young said:

“Since the Real Bread Campaign began in 2008, we’ve seen gradual diminishing of governmental support for consumer protection bodies, and erosion of their enforcement powers. This message sadly illustrates our belief that trading standards officers’ ability to protect people from being misled is too often limited to cases that are likely to cause acute harm.”

He went on to say:

“For whatever reasons people want and need honest and transparent food labelling, we urge whoever is elected in 2024 to reinvest in consumer protection so that everyone can be sure we get what we think we’re spending our money on.”

The Campaign is working on a Real Bread Manifesto of things it wants the next government to do. It will include a call for proper investment in consumer protection, primarily by providing appropriate funding for trading standards investigation and enforcement.

Published Monday 11 December 2023

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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