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Tesco misleading bread ad: ASA ruling

Loaf tanning salons. Credit: Tesco

Loaf tanning salons. Credit: Tesco

On 21 July 2010, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint from the Real Bread Campaign that a magazine advertisement for Tesco in-store bakeries breached the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code’s clause on truthfulness. The ASA ruled that the advertisement should not appear again in that form.

The advert

Fresh bread. 
Baked from scratch in our in store bakery. 
Using 100% British flour. 
So every single loaf is genuinely British…
Born and bread.

The truth

Tesco only bakes loaves from scratch in 504  of its 2,362 UK stores, and some are produced with imported flour.  In its response to the complaint, Tesco admitted that far more (1,288) of its in-store bakeries merely re-bake loaves that were part-baked elsewhere.

The complaint

This is the letter sent by the Real Bread Campaign to Advertising Standards Authority on 14 April 2010:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Subject: Real Bread Campaign complaint about Tesco bread advertisement

The Real Bread Campaign is a charitable organisation, the aims of which are to encourage and support the increased consumption and local production of Real Bread, which we define as being made using all natural ingredients and no artificial additives, improvers or processing aids. Another aspect of our work is to address any issues that we see as running counter to our main aims.

Page 21 of the 14th March 2010 March issue of the Observer Food Monthly magazine bore a full-page Tesco advertisement that states that ‘every single loaf’ is ‘baked from scratch in our in store bakery using 100% British flour.’

We believe that this advertisement is in breach of the following points of the CAP (non-broadcast) Code:

7.1 No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.

16.4 Products must not be advertised as ready for purchase (i.e. with an indication of product characteristics and specified price) unless marketers can demonstrate that they have reasonable grounds for believing they can satisfy demand…

2.8: The Code is applied in the spirit as well as in the letter.

The advertisement

The advertisement begins:

'Fresh Bread.
Baked from scratch in our in store bakery.
Using 100% British flour.
So every single loaf is genuinely British…
Born and bread.'

It goes on to say that:

‘When you buy your daily bread from the Tesco in-store bakery, it’s not only delicious but also 100% British. We’re proud to use wheat grown exclusively by UK farmers. Our bakers then use their skill to turn the flour into 35 different types of freshly baked bread.  So whether it’s a Finest Handcrafted Rustic Multigrain or one of our Tiger Bloomers, you always know your Tesco loaf is British – born and bread.’

Whilst we would join Tesco in celebrating every single one of their in-store bakery loaves being baked from scratch on site in their in-store bakeries using 100% British flour, we simply do not believe that this is a true representation of the facts.


Tesco claims it operates 2,362 stores in the UK 1, yet according to a report in British Baker magazine the chain only bakes from scratch in 4802 of these.  So, far from every single Tesco loaf being baked from scratch, these figures suggest to us that this claim cannot be made for almost 80% of its stores. 

As outlined in our own report,  Are Supermarket Bloomers pants?  it seems to us likely that the remainder of stores sell wrapped sliced loaves and/or bake-off products, that is loaves that were baked at a low temperature elsewhere, then chilled or perhaps frozen, and the re-baked to re-soften the crumb and give the crusts an attractive hue and crunch. 


The advertisement does include a disclaimer.  This admits that such loaves are:
‘Subject to availability. Selected UK stores. British flour used in all products that are baked from scratch in store as stickered on pack. French Baguettes, Batons and products not baked from scratch excluded.’

So, not only is baking from scratch limited to a minority of Tesco stores but even in those, the ‘100% British’ claim is not applicable to all loaves. How is a reader to know which are the selected stores? We have yet to see evidence of Tesco making clear to customers which loaves are re-baked, rather than freshly baked from scratch.  Will there be corresponding stickers that say ‘Bake-off product. Originally baked elsewhere using imported flour’


We believe that if indeed freshly baked bread is only available in around one fifth of Tesco stores and even in those, many loaves are not produced using 100% British flour, the advertisement is misleading by exaggeration and the company would not be able to demonstrate that it has reasonable grounds for believing it can satisfy demand. Further we feel that following an entire page of bold claims, such a disclaimer in lettering less than 2mm high does not draw the advertisement back within the spirit of the Code.

I can confirm that no legal action in connection with this subject is underway or will be initiated by either the Real Bread Campaign or Sustain. Additionally, I confirm that the Real Bread Campaign agrees to be named as the complainant.


  1) Interactive map viewed 15th April 2010
  2) Scratch bakery figures taken from BB75 2010, British Baker, January 2010


The ASA ruling

This is the full text of the final adjudication published by the Advertising Standards Authority on 21 July 2010:


Tesco Stores Ltd
Tesco House
Delamare Road

Case number:    A10-123709/HF
Media:    Magazine
Sector:    Retail

Number of complaints : 1

A press ad stated “Fresh bread.  Baked from scratch in our in store bakery.  Using 100% British flour.  So every single loaf is genuinely British…Born and bread.”  The small print stated “Subject to availability.  Selected UK stores.  British Flour used in all products that are baked from scratch in store as stickered in pack.  French Baguettes, Batons and products not baked from scratch excluded.”

The Real Bread Campaign (RBC) challenged whether

1. the ad misleadingly implied that bread was “Baked from scratch” in all stores, whereas RBC understood only 480 Tesco stores baked bread; and

2. the ad was misleading because the claim “Baked from scratch in our in store bakery.  Using 100% British flour” did not apply to all loaves and they believed the small print contradicted rather than clarified the headline claim.

1. Tesco stated that bread was baked from scratch in 504 of its in-store bakeries, predominantly in its larger stores.  In 1,288 stores, Tesco said they used part-baked, or “bake-off”, bread which was “finished” in the in-store bakery.  Tesco explained that most of their stores had a bakery facility.  “Tesco said that out of 936 supermarkets, 504 had scratch bakeries and they produced the majority of in-store bread, because they were bigger stores.  They said customers would not recognise that Express stores had an in-store bakery because they only baked three or four lines of bread.” Tesco believed that the small print in the ad explained what a “scratch bakery” was and made clear that those loaves were available in selected stores.  They also said that “scratch bakery” loaves were stickered as such in-store to help consumers differentiate them from other “bake-off” products.  Tesco went on to explain that some speciality varieties of bread could not be practically made from base ingredients in-store so were not included in the overall claim.

2. Tesco said that only British flour was used to produce their bread, regardless of whether it was “scratch bakery” or “bake-off”, except for speciality breads such as organic loaves, French baguettes and ciabatta bread.   They believed the small print clarified the extent of the claim so the ad would not mislead readers.  Tesco said every single scratch baked loaf was British and therefore argued that the claim was accurate and not misleading.

1. Upheld
“The ASA understood that “bake-off” loaves were baked at another site then chilled or frozen, and finally re-baked or “finished” on the premises. In contrast, “scratch bakery” loaves were prepared and baked freshly from base ingredients on site. We considered that the claim “Fresh bread.  Baked from scratch in our in store bakery.  Using 100% British flour.  So every single loaf is genuinely British…Born and bread” was likely to be interpreted by readers as meaning that all Tesco stores with an in-store bakery baked their loaves from scratch.  We understood that most Tesco stores had a bakery facility but that only 504 stores baked bread “from scratch.” Because we considered that the ad implied that all Tesco stores with a bakery facility baked bread from scratch, which was true of only a limited number of stores, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness).

2.  Not upheld
We understood that speciality breads were not baked solely from British flour, nor were they baked from scratch, and were excluded from the overall claim. We considered that readers would expect that some foreign speciality loaves, such as French baguettes, would be excluded from the claim and noted the ad stated in the small print “French Baguettes, Batons and products not baked from scratch excluded” which made consumers aware of that fact.  We understood that non-speciality loaves, irrespective of whether they were “scratch bakery” or “bake-off” products, were made from 100 percent British flour. We noted the ad stated “Baked from scratch in our in store bakery.  Using 100% British flour” and understood that it was indeed the case that all bread baked from scratch was made using British flour. We therefore considered that the small print did not contradict the headline claim and concluded the ad was unlikely to mislead on that point.

On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 and 7.2 (Truthfulness) but did not find it in breach.

The ad must not appear again in its current form.

Take action!

The future of Real Bread is in your hands and here are just some of the ways you can help:

  • Vote with your shopping basket - to see if you are lucky enough to live near one of Britain’s few remaining Real Bread bakeries, check out the Real Bread Finder at:
  • If you are a Real Bread baker and not yet on the finder, please add your Real Breads today 
  • If you don’t do so already, you could start baking your own Real Bread

If you would like to see genuinely fresh Real Bread in the aisles of a supermarket, you could:

  • Ask a member of staff to advise you which in-store bakery loaf has been made on site from scratch without the use of any flour treatment agent, flour improver, processing aids or any other artificial additive, preferably using 100% British flour
  • If this fails to unearth any freshly baked Real Bread, ask for the duty manager and get her/him to log your complaint 
  • As an alternative or follow-up to speaking to the duty manager, write to the head office of the supermarket, outlining the issues about which you are unhappy and informing them that you will not buy a loaf from the store until they can guarantee that it is freshly-baked Read Bread

If you try any of the above, please let us know how you get on.

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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