The Real Bread Campaign believes that the law should be: put everything on the label and a label on everything. In the meantime, we call on all bakers and baked product retailers to do this voluntarily, regardless of the current minimum requirements.
We also believe that commonly-used marketing terms should have legal defintions and that their use should be regulated.
Did you know that:
- 'Freshly baked' loaves could have been made months ago and merely re-baked in-store.
- Retailers don't have to display ingredient lists for loaves sold unwrapped, so you don't know if additives have been used.
- Some additives don't even have to appear on industrial loaf labels.
- We all understand that wholegrain foods are healthy options, but in the UK (and some other countries) there is no legal definition or minimum content requirement: A wholegrain loaf could contain just a few grams of wholemel flour.
- In the UK (and some other countries) there is no legal definition of sourdough, craft bakery, or artisan bread, meaning there is little to prevent those terms being used to market any loaf made anyhow by anyone.
- Multiple retailers can sell loaves below the cost of manufacture, making up the loss on other items. We believe this is unfair competition for small, independent producers and retailers, and by comparison might help skew shoppers' perception of the 'right' price for bread as well.
To 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, we call for an Honest Crust Act that will include:
- The Real Bread Campaign's definition of Real Bread to be used as the legal definintion of bread. Anything containing a food additive would not be permitted to include the word bread in its name or marketing.
- All bakers and retailers being required to print full lists of ingredients (plus any so-called processing aids or other additives used) for all loaves (plus baguettes, panini, bagels, sandwiches etc.) on their wrappers. In the case of unwrapped loaves, this information should be displayed at the point of sale instead - eg using shelf labelling.
- Meaningful, legal definitions for the terms 'fresh' and 'freshly baked' when used in the marketing of loaves - made from scratch in the past 12 hours, for example. not to be used for 'bake-off' products or those containing artificial preservatives.
- Sourdough legally defined as bread (see above) leavened only using a live sourdough culture, without the addition of commercial yeast or other raising agents (e.g. baking powder) or other ingredients/additives as souring agents or as sourdough flavouring, e.g. vinegar, yoghurt, or inactive dried sourdough powder. Read more.
- Meaningful, legal definitions for words used to name and market grains, flour, bread and industrial baked products, including: wholegrain, artisan, craft, ancient, heritage and related terms.
- Section six of the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 to be tightened and fully enforced to ensure the likes of dried gluten and soya flour do not make their way into loaves sold as wholemeal.
- Replacing mandatory so-called fortification of flour with minimum nutritional standards, in conjunction with other measures including better food education in schools, community settings. Read more.
- Exemption from minimum nutrional standards for traditional, and other small, independent mills, and allowing them to opt out of mandatory 'fortification' in the meantime.
- A ban on below-cost selling of loaves by multiple retailers, other than when attempting to reduce their wastage of 'short date' items.
In the meantime
- Britain says: ‘hidden loaf additives are unacceptable’
- Following the French example
- Food Information for Consumers Regulations
- See also
Find more in our news pages.
- Rallying support for an Honest Crust Act
- FSA and Defra to sweep wholegrain and fresh bread off the table?
- Will the FSA support an Honest Crust Act?
- Defining sourdough: Defra replies
- Sourdough: Continuing governmental failure
- Sourdough: The case for a legal definition
- Updating and improving the Bread and Flour Regulations
- Honest Crust Act a step closer? [including updates]
- Change in food labelling law
- MP presses Defra on loaf labelling
- New PPDS food labelling guidance
- Honest Crust Act: Still no date
- Honest Crust Act: MP slams Defra reply
- Watchdog considering bakery sector investigation
- Calling Britain's bread and small business lovers
- Loaf law review imminent?
- Defra rejects bakery boosting proposal
- Where's our Honest Crust Act?
August 2020: We plan to resume to resume in October, asking Defra for an update and timeline for the post-Brexit loaf labelling and marketing legislation review, as promised by the Secretary of State in November 2018.
March 2020: COVID-19 has forced us to pause our plans to hold the government to the promise it made in November 2018 to review loaf labelling and marketing legislation after BREXIT.
December 2019 Save our Sourdough
December 2019 Watchdog sleeps through sourfaux ads
November 2019 Sourdough code of (mal)practice?
May 2019 Big brand sourfaux exposed
November 2018 Government commits to Honest Crust Act review (but only after BREXIT)
October 2018 Gove served Honest Crust Act letter
August 2018 100% Wholemeal? Update
April 2018 By the time the action launched in September ended, more than 1500 people had written to Michael Gove at Defra in support of the Campaign's call for an Honest Crust Act. To date, none has received a reply and the Campaign will be taking the next step in spring 2018.
April 2017 The Campaign wrote a letter to Defra, restating its call for an Honest Crust Act. Purdah means a reply won't be received until after the general election.
April 2016 The Campaign launched a consultation amongst its supporters and wider network of friends to help decide what action to take next on these issues. As part of this, the Campaign wrote this briefing document on the main three options.
June 2014 A small victory. Four 'token nutrients' are added to most UK milled wheat flour but not declared on product labels. While the Campaign questioned whether they were necessary at all, we campaigned for their declaration to be made mandatory. This came into force thanks to the new Food Information for Consumers regulations.
A survey by the Real Bread Campaign of 1300 people around the UK in October 2011 found that:
- more than 71% of us believe it’s unacceptable that food additives known as ‘processing aids’ don’t have to appear on an ingredients list for any loaf
- more than 70% of us believe it’s unacceptable that an ingredient/additives list doesn’t have to be displayed at all for unwrapped loaves
On this issue let’s take inspiration from France, which on 13 September 1993 issued Décret n°93-1074 - which could easily be called The Real Bread Act.
This decree (law) states that bread may be marketed/sold as pain de tradition française, pain traditionnel français, pain traditionnel de France, or under similar names only if it is made:
- without any artificial additives
- from a mixture of only wheat bread flour, drinkable water and cooking salt
- bakers' yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and leaven (as defined below), or one of the two
Permitted optional extras (maximum in relation to flour weight) are 2% bean meal; 0.5% soybean meal; 0.3% malted wheat flour.
The decree also:
- prohibits the dough or bread from being frozen at any point in the process
- states that loaves can only be sold/marketed as pain maison (or similar) if it is fully kneaded, shaped and baked (i.e. no bake-off loaves) in the place at which it is sold to the final consumer. The term can also be used when the bread is sold to final consumers elsewhere only if it is sold by the baker who did the kneading, shaping and baking
- limits the use of the term 'sourdough' to bread with a maximum pH of 4.3 and an acetic acid content of at least 900 parts per million
- defines the composition of 'leaven'
Most of the provisions of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (Regulation EU 1169/2011) will come into force on 13 December 2013.
Requirements relevant to small, independent Real Bread bakers will include:
- changes in the ways that caterers and food producers/retailers must provide infomation about 14 known food allergens, and who has to provide this.
- that the four substances added to most UK flour by law (but previously hidden from consumers) will now have to be included in the ingredient listings of flour, bread etc.
You can read the draft version of the Food Information Regulations proposed for England (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland's versions are likely to be very similar) here.
NB Due to lack of funding, the Real Bread Campaign is unable to give advice on the new regulation.
- European Commission: Questions and Answers on the application of the Regulation (EU) N° 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers
- Food Standards Agency: Food Information Regulation
- Department of Business Information and Skills: Providing better information and protection for consumers
Sadly, it now seems that the Regulation might include what we see as a loophole.
Part A of Annex VI (MANDATORY PARTICULARS ACCOMPANYING THE NAME OF THE FOOD: NAME OF THE FOOD AND SPECIFIC ACCOMPANYING PARTICULARS) of the EU Regualtion states:
- The name of the food shall include or be accompanied by particulars as to the physical condition of the food or the specific treatment which it has undergone (for example, powdered, refrozen, freeze-dried, quick-frozen, concentrated, smoked) in all cases where omission of such information could mislead the purchaser.
- In the case of foods that have been frozen before sale and which are sold defrosted, the name of the food shall be accompanied by the designation "defrosted".
Great news for people, like us, who believe that selling bake-off loaves as 'fresh' is misleading, right?
The rules go on to says that the requirement doesn't apply to 'foods for which the defrosting has no negative impact on the safety or quality of the food.'
As bake off loaves tend to stale quickly, which arguably is a negative impact on quality, we would be interested to hear from anyone who tests the new regulation by submitting a complaint to their local trading standards office after it comes into force in December 2014.
The process for the passing of a new EU regulation on food labelling is in its final stages. Once passed, EU member states (including the UK) will have to amend existing laws or pass new ones to bring them into line with the new regulation.
In September, Chris Young of the Campaign sent DEFRA the following email:
Having had chance to read through [the proposed regulation], I have a few questions to which I've been unable to find answers.
What is the EU's definition of 'technological function'? e.g with regard to bread, are any of the following considered to be 'technological functions in the end product'?
- Prolonging the crumb softness of the finished loaf
- Increased loaf volume
- Finer crumb structure
- Improved crispiness and colour
My belief is that the first definitely is, but I'm not sure about the others.
Am I correct in my reading that the new regulations would make the labelling of the following mandatory:
- The presence in flour and baked goods of added powdered gluten
- The presence in flour of added nutrients, including the four (calcium carbonate, iron, thiamin, nicotinic acid/nicotinamide) required by Bread and Flour Regulations 1998
- If dough or a part-bake loaf has been frozen before baking for sale - a process that reduces the shelf life
- The origin of the grain from which flour is milled if different from the country of milling - e.g if flour labelled as British was milled in England but from Canadian wheat
- The country in which flour is milled, if different from the country in which a product is baked - e.g. if a loaf labelled as French was made from flour milled in France but baked in England, or vice versa
Closely related to the frozen bake-off question, is regarding a loaf has been part-baked, chilled (but not frozen) and then rebaked. After all, this process does have a negative impact on the shelf life of the loaf, uses twice as much energy as a once-baked loaf, and replaces the potential for a local skilled employment opportunity, with setting an oven timer. We would consider marketing this as 'freshly baked' or simply 'fresh', or failure to indicate that it has been baked twice to be misleading - would DEFRA agree?
On 6 October 2011, we received the following response from DEFRA's Food Policy Unit:
You highlight some useful points and I expect some of these will need further discussion to identify consensus as the new requirements are applied to labels. I have tried to address your questions below.
What is the EU's definition of 'technological function'?
There is no specific definition as far as we are aware of technological function for use in the context of the defrosted provisions. We anticipate the this aspect of the dossier will need some further work to establish consensus on the process that are understood to be captured, bearing in mind the need to balance the burden to businesses and consumers needs. The discussions in the negotiations focused on a limited range of circumstances e.g. meat that is frozen to be sliced and further thought will be needed to identify how this applies to specific food types. This may need input from a range of organisations to achieve a common understanding.
The presence in flour and baked goods of added powdered gluten will need to be labelled
It is likely that powered gluten would need to be labelled unless any specific exemptions apply. Any substance derived from one of the allergens e.g. cereals containing gluten would require labelling.
The presence in flour of added nutrients, including the four (calcium carbonate, iron, thiamin, nicotinic acid/nicotinamide) required by Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 will need to be labelled
It is correct that the nutrients required under the bread and flour regulations will need to be labelled once the transition period for the FIR ends in 3 years time. This reflects that there is less ability for Member States to have national rules as the European requirements are now a regulation. Given the impact on business we have investigated if there is an alternative solution and unfortunately a solution could not be found.
If dough or a part-bake loaf has been frozen before baking for sale - a process that reduces the shelf life would need to be labelled.
How the resulting product is sold is important in answering this question. Some products produced this way will be sold non prepacked or prepacked for direct sale in which case the defrosted provisions would not apply. If prepacked, whether not providing the information is considered misleading is dependent on the overall presentation of the product. It is likely that information may be required where consumers as a result of the labelling and manner in which the bread was sold would otherwise think the bread was freshly made on site. This is something to be considered as part of enforcement practice on the FIR.
The origin of the grain from which flour is milled if different from the country of milling - e.g if flour labelled as British was milled in England but from Canadian wheat would need to be labelled
The Commission are charged with developing implementing rules on the Country of Origin provision. As such we would not want to prejudge the result of those discussions as this may influence how information is presented on the label.
The country in which flour is milled, if different from the country in which a product is baked - e.g. if a loaf labelled as French was made from flour milled in France but baked in England, or vice versa would need to be labelled
Again, the Commission are charged with developing implementing rules on the Country of Origin provision. As such we would not want to prejudge the result of those discussions as this may influence how information is presented on the label.
We would consider marketing this as 'freshly baked' or simply 'fresh', or failure to indicate that it has been baked twice to be misleading - would DEFRA agree?
The term fresh in the context of bread is not defined. The Government has produced based practice advice on the criteria for using marketing terms such as fresh. In this it is suggested:
46. Terms such as “freshly baked”, “baked in store” and “oven fresh” may mislead consumers into believing that they are being offered products that have been freshly produced on site from basic raw materials. Some stores sell bread made from part-baked products that have been packed in an inert atmosphere or frozen off-site then “baked off” at in-store bakeries. Use of terms like “freshly baked”, “baked in store” and “oven fresh” on these products could potentially infringe the general legal provisions referred to in paragraph 14 above.
Point 14 refers to whether the information is misleading. Ultimately it is for enforcement authorities and the courts to decide if labels are misleading. We will be revisiting this guidance in light of the new provisions in the FIR on misleading labelling.
- Artificial additives
- Processing aids
- Supermarket in-store bakery loaves
- The Real Bread Loaf Mark
- Loaf labelling guide
- Dried gluten
- Stick One on ‘em!
- Consultation: Enforcement of European Parliament and Council: Regulations on Additives and Enzymes (England)
- Our response to the consultation (21 October 2009)
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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