Current legislation in the EU (including UK) and elsewhere allows manufacturers to deem additives to be 'processing aids', meaning they don't have to declare their use (let alone their names) even on the labels of wrapped foods.
- Come clean!
- The Real Bread Campaign's demand to the Federation of Bakers
- Open Letter from the Real Bread Campaign to The Federation of Bakers
- Statement from the Real Bread Campaign on the possible use of unlabelled processing aids in factory loaves
- Federation of Bakers members
- Stick one on 'em!
Since the launch of the Real Bread Campaign in November 2008, the Federation of Bakers (which represents the wrapped-sliced loaf manufacturers that produce around 80% of the loaves we buy in the UK) and their members have ignored our repeated invitations to give you and us an assurance that they do not use any undeclared processing aids in their products.
In May 2009, the Real Bread Campaign and the Real Food Festival began encouraging the people of Britain to Stick One On ‘em! and demand that the Big Bakers come clean.
If you don’t like the idea that the manufacture of the loaves you eat might have involved a veritable cocktail of undeclared enzymes, some of which are known allergens (and could potentially be of GM or animal origin) then vote with your shopping basket and buy Real Bread instead.
Current legislation allows manufacturers to use substances known as processing aids during wrapped loaf production without declaring so on the label. These can include enzymes such as xylanase, transglutaminase, hemicellulase, phospholipase and maltogenic amylase some of which may be of animal or GM origin.
Whatever the state of current legislation, we urge The Federation of Bakers and its members to amend their loaf labelling with all possible speed to include a declaration of any and all added enzymes and other processing aids, with their names and provenance expressed in language that the ordinary consumer can understand. In the longer term, we call on all bakers to remove from their loaf production all artificial additives and processing aids in the interests of the health and integrity of our most fundamental food.
On 2nd April 2009, the Real Bread Campaign and the Real Food Festival sent the following open letter to the Federation of Bakers and its member companies (Premier Foods, Allied Bakeries, Warburtons, Frank Roberts & Sons, Fine Lady Bakeries, Delifrance (UK), WD Irwin & Sons and William Jackson & Son), which collectively produce around 80% of the loaves we buy in the UK.
The Federation of Bakers
6 Catherine Street
2nd April 2009
Ref: Transparent and honest labelling of bread
Dear Mr Polson,
As you are aware, current legislation allows manufacturers to use substances known as processing aids during bread production without declaring so on the label. We at the Real Bread Campaign and Real Food Festival know that these can include enzymes such as xylanase, transglutaminase, hemicellulase, phospholipase and fungal alpha-amylase some of which are known allergens or may be produced using substances of animal or GM origin.
Our organisations are dedicated to increasing the production and enjoyment of Real Bread, the definition of which excludes the use of any artificial additives or processing aids. We therefore invite you to confirm that your members use no such aids in the manufacture of any of their products.
Should you be unable to do so, we urge your members to take the ethical step of amending their bread product labelling with all possible speed to include a declaration of any and all added enzymes and other processing aids used, with their names and provenance expressed in language that the ordinary consumer can understand.
It is impossible for people to make fully informed choices of the foods they purchase and eat if they are unaware of the full list of ingredients and processes involved. We believe that, whatever the state of current legislation, food labels should include sufficient information to enable consumers to make truly informed decisions. Any attempt to increase bread consumption as part of a healthy diet is disingenuous if not accompanied by a transparent and honest disclosure of all that goes into the making of different breads.
The development of bakery enzymes in the past two decades demonstrates how industrial innovation can outstrip regulatory capacity, especially where the long-term effects on consumers eating food produced using enzymes in combination might never be tested adequately.
We trust that you agree that the only essential ingredients of basic leavened bread are flour, water and yeast, to which a small amount of salt may be added. In the longer term, we call on all bakers to remove from their bread production all artificial additives and processing aids in the interests of the health and integrity of our most fundamental food.
Should any baker decide to take this route, we invite them then to list their products on our Real Bread Finder at http://www.realbreadcampaign.org/
The Real Bread Campaign and the Real Food Festival
Only three of the eight members of the Federation made any sort of response to our to our repeated questioning by letter and email. The Federation also made a statement, which remained the main item on the homepage of its website for around nine months.
The responses mainly focussed on the issue of animal products, with none denying the use of hidden added enzymes in their loaves.
The Federation of Bakers
8th May 2009
Statement on behalf of the Federation of Bakers by Gordon Polson, director in response to the Real Bread Campaign’s claims about bread containing animal products/enzymes.
“All wrapped bread produced in the UK is clearly labelled and strictly adheres to EU legislation, ensuring consumers can always make an informed choice about what they are buying.
“The vast majority of UK wrapped bread carries a label stating it is ‘suitable for vegetarians’. This claim could not be made if the food contained any ingredients, including any processing aids, which were of animal origin. As a result the Vegetarian Society is satisfied that the labeling of bread in the UK meets its requirements and is suitable for vegetarians where stated on pack.
“In certain cases, such as breads fortified with omega 3, the ingredients are derived from non-vegetarian sources like fish and therefore are clearly labelled as ‘not suitable for vegetarians’.“
For further information please contact:
Jane Baerselman/Laura Nye
Federation of Bakers press office
T: 020 7052 8835/49
Forwarded to the Campaign by a supporter who wrote to the company.
Many thanks for your email concerning the article in the Metro. I can categorically confirm that Warburtons products are suitable for Vegetarians and that we do not use any ingredients or processing aids of animal origin, if this were the case we could not make the claim on all products 'suitable for vegetarians'. I can also confirm that there is no alcohol added to our products and that no ingredient is from GM origin. I do hope this helps and if I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
Labelling and Nutrition Manager
Allied Bakeries - May 2009
Dear Mr/Mrs Sir/Madam
Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding our products. We thoroughly check all of our ingredients including any processing aids and enzymes, to ensure that they are vegetarian. The only product that we produce that is not suitable for vegetarians has been fortified with omega 3 derived from fish and is clearly labelled as 'not suitable for vegetarians'. We follow all relevant legislation and the Food Standards Agency's guidance on labelling products as suitable for vegetarian. Flour naturally has enzymes present and so does yeast. Sometimes we add additional amounts of enzymes to balance out those in the flour, as this gives a more controlled and consistent dough. Any enzymes we use are suitable for vegetarians. Alcohol is present in very small amounts during the process but is driven off when the bread is baked. The possible sources of the alcohol are as a result of yeast fermentation and residual amounts in the vinegar used in some recipes. The vinegar is derived from sugar beet molasses. If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
Yours sincerely, [no name or title given]
Hovis - May 2009
Bread and Vegetarian Status
We are aware of recent reports suggesting that bread produced in the UK is not suitable for UK vegetarians due to the use of enzymes in the baking process that are derived from animals. Premier Foods does not use enzymes of animal origin in the production of bread. All bread produced by Premier Foods is clearly labelled and complies with the EU legislation on labelling. When a Premier Foods bread product is labelled as suitable for vegetarians it meets all the requirements of the FSA guidance on labelling foods as vegetarian. Alcohol is not used as an ingredient in any of our Hovis products either. Premier Foods has a strictly adhered to policy on the use of genetically modified ingredients. We recognise that our consumers have concerns about the acceptability of ingredients containing GMOs and as a result Premier Foods does not procure GM raw materials or ingredients containing GMOs for use in any of its products. If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me,
Brand Technical Controller - Hovis
Bread Bakeries Division
Statement from the Real Bread Campaign on the possible use of unlabelled processing aids in factory loaves
19 May 2009
After repeated questioning by letter and email, the Real Bread Campaign at last has secured confirmation from The Federation of Bakers that nothing of animal or GM origin is used by any federation member in the manufacture of any product unless clearly stated on the label. The statement covers ingredients, additives and processing aids.
Further to this, copies of communications from the federation’s three largest member companies* have been passed to the Real Bread Campaign, each company confirming that it does not use enzymes of animal or GM origin at all.
Whilst the Real Bread Campaign welcomes the opportunity to share this clarification with British consumers, we are saddened that neither the federation of any of its member companies took the chance to reply to the Real Bread Campaign or the Real Food Festival with such unequivocal answers when we first put the question to each of them in a letter of 2 April.
We are further disappointed that the Federation has not accepted any of our four written invitations to confirm that none of its member companies is using any unlabelled processing aids in the manufacture of its products.
We therefore draw the following conclusions:
- Federation members may be using unlabelled processing aids.
- The Federation has no intention of phasing out the use of processing aids.
- The Federation has no intention of taking the voluntary step of declaring the use of processing aids on product labels.
We have again put these possibilities to the Federation and await their reply.
Consumers in search of Real Bread made with all natural ingredients and no artificial additives or processing aids can search for their nearest local supply using the Real Bread Finder at http://www.realbreadcampaign.org/
*The three largest members of The Federation of Bakers are Allied Bakeries, Premier Foods (Hovis) and Warburtons, with WD Irwin & Sons Limited, Frank Roberts & Sons Limited, Fine Lady Bakeries Limited, Delifrance (UK) Ltd. and William Jackson & Son Limited completing the membership.
No response was ever received to this.
Here are the eight members of the FoB to which we wrote in April 2009, with lists of some of their well-known brands.
- Premier Foods (Hovis) - Hovis, Mother’s Pride
- Allied Bakeries Limited - Sunblest, Kingsmill, Allinson, Burgen
- WD Irwin & Sons Limited - Rankin Selection, Guinness Whole Grain, Nutty Krust
- Warburtons Limited
- Frank Roberts & Sons Limited
- Fine Lady Bakeries Limited
- Delifrance (UK) Ltd.
- William Jackson & Son Limited
In case you missed our Stick One on ‘em! stickers* at the Real Food Festival 2009, you can download a sheet to print off yourself.
They are formatted for an A4 sheet of 21 address labels (Avery L7160).
Email us at email@example.com if you would like to recieve sheets of stickers.
*Remember – touching someone else’s buns can get you into all sorts of trouble, so please only use these on the labels of bread that you own. The Real Bread Campaign, Real Food Festival and Sustain remind you that sticking them elsewhere, say on supermarket shelves, loaf advertising posters, loaves in shops etc. could lead to you being arrested and even prosecuted for criminal damage and the like. Of course, what you do with them is up to you but don’t go saying that it was our idea or that we didn’t warn you…
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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