Defra continues to fail to set a date for long-promised loaf law review.
In May 2021, Justin Madders, the Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care, tabled this written question:
"To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Government's written commitments to the Real Bread Campaign to review the Bread and Flour Regulations in November 2018, what progress the Government has made to ensure that there will be a public consultation on that matter; and if he will publish the timetable for the commencement of that consultation."
While the Secretary of State did not reply personally, on 28 May Victoria Prentis, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs responded:
"Defra committed to reviewing the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998, as they apply in England, following the end of the transition period. The planned review is being scoped now but it will focus on ensuring alignment with retained laws in other overlapping areas, as well as considering requests from industry for additional measures and exemptions. The review will also need to consider any DHSC decisions around folic acid. As part of the review, we will hold a public consultation on policy options. We very much welcome views from key stakeholders such as the Real Bread Campaign to feed into this. Many of the issues raised by stakeholders to date are technically complex and we expect this review will need sufficient time to consider responses and agree the best way forward."
Real Bread Coordinator Chris Young said: "Defra promised this long-overdue review nearly two and a half years ago. Why do they continue to drag their collective heels, which we believe is to the detriment of Real Bread bakery owners and shoppers? At the very, very least they could set the date, and preferably outline how shoppers and Real Bread business owners will be involved in the process."
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Please feel free to amend the message below, or compose your own.
If you own a Real Bread bakery, we suggest you replace the first two paragraphs with tailored versions of these three:
I believe that you are a supporter of local, small businesses like ours and the skilled jobs we create, as well as the rights of shoppers in your constituency and beyond. As such, we need your help, please.
I started [BAKERY NAME] in [YEAR] , since when we have built up the business to employ [XX] people. Our Real Bread is available to buy from, or eat at, more than [XX] other small businesses in and around [name of town or area].
An obstacle to small and medium Real Bread bakeries like ours being able to help keep our high streets and local economies alive is the current - but inadequate and outdated - loaf labelling and marketing legislation. This abandons people to make buying choices based on incomplete product information and what we see as the misleading use of all-but unregulated marketing claims.
[Dear MP name – this is in the online form already]
I believe that you are a supporter of local, small businesses and the skilled jobs they create, as well as the rights of shoppers in your constituency and beyond. As such, we need your help, please.
An obstacle to small and medium Real Bread bakeries being able to help keep our high streets and local economies alive is the current - but inadequate and outdated - loaf labelling and marketing legislation. This abandons people to make buying choices based on incomplete product information and what I see as the misleading use of all-but unregulated marketing claims.
At present, many terms - including freshly-baked, wholegrain, handmade, artisan, sourdough, heritage wheat and ancient grains - have no legal definition. This leaves them to be used inappropriately and consumer protection bodies (such as the Advertising Standards Authority and local trading standards departments) powerless to act. A further problem is that some loaves can be sold without a full declaration of the ingredients and any additives used in their manufacture.
This all leaves shoppers in the dark about the loaves they buy - how they are made, with what, where and by whom. People are left (or led) to make like-for-like comparisons between loaves that neighbourhood Real Bread bakeries craft, and fundamentally different products manufactured by companies that do not contribute in the same way to the local community, if at all. For example, a supermarket in-store ‘bakery’ loaf made a long time ago in a factory far, far away (perhaps even overseas) using many additives, part-baked, frozen, re-baked in the shop can be sold as ‘fresh bread baked in store today’.
The Real Bread Campaign calls for an Honest Crust Act that will support job creation, improve consumer protection and build the reputation of – and trust in - British food. Back in November 2018, Defra promised a review of the regulations. Nearly two and ahlaf years later, they still will not give details of how small business owners and shoppers will be involved, or even a timescale for the process. Their more recent responses to written questions on these issues fail to acknowledge the reality of the current situation or inadequacy of the legislation.
Will you please help us to secure a commitment from Defra for the date for, and details of how Real Bread business owners and shoppers will be involved in, this long-overdue review?
If you require further information, the Real Bread Campaign’s co-ordinator Chris Young will be happy to send you a briefing and answer your questions: email@example.com
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- Marketing year-old baguettes as fresh 'wrong' says Real Bread Campaign
- Government plays ‘red tape reduction’ card in response to Honest Crust Act call
- Call on your MP to urge for better loaf labelling laws
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- Prue Leith supports Real Bread Campaign’s Better Bread Britain call to Gove
- Real Bread Campaign urges government to introduce an Honest Crust Act
- Honest Crust Act delegation to Defra
Published 2 Jun 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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