Current legislation allows UK manufacturers to use a category of additive known as 'processing aids' during loaf production without declaring so, even on the labels of wrapped loaves.
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.
Since May 2009, the Real Bread Campaign and the Real Food Festival have been inviting the people of Britain to demand that the Big Bakers come clean and Stick One On ‘em!
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 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.
As far as we're aware, 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 few responses we received mainly focussed on the issue of animal products, and none denied the use of hidden added enzymes in their loaves.
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
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
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]
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
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:
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.
Here are the eight members of the FoB to which we wrote in April 2009, with lists of some of their well-known brands.
They are formatted for an A4 sheet of 21 address labels (Avery L7160).
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to recieve sheets of stickers.