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What is Real Bread?

Everyone has their own idea of what Real Bread is. Here's the Real Bread Campaign's basic definition:

Real Bread is made without chemical raising agents, so-called processing aids or any other  additives*

This includes, but is not limited to, genuine sourdough bread.

Simple, eh? That's because it is.

Find Real Bread Look for The Loaf Mark

*The only exceptions we make are for so-called 'fortificants' in places where their addition is mandatory - to most UK milled flour, for example. We're working on that, though...

Reclaim the name

Sadly, something like 95% of what is sold as 'bread' in the UK might fall short of this very low bar.

We believe that this universally-inclusive definition should be the key criterion in the legal definition of bread full stop. Why should bakers who make bread in a time-honoured, natural way have to qualify it with 'real', 'artisan', 'craft' and the like? We say let's reclaim the name bread and leave it to the industrial loaf fabricators to come up with a new name for their additive-laden products.

Not all Real Bread is sourdough

All genuine sourdough is Real Bread but not all Real Bread is leavened using a sourdough starter. Real Bread can also be unleavened bread or made using baker's yeast

Contrary to a common misperception/misunderstaning, we have nothing against baker's yeast* - a skilled baker can make great Real Bread using it. Two things:

  • Bread made using baker's yeast can be Real Bread but it can't be genuine sourdough bread.
  • Always read the label to make sure the yeast you're using is additive-free. If it has one or more additives, what you make with it won't meet our definition above.

*By which we mean Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold in fresh, liquid, dried active, and 'quick' or 'fast acting' forms.

Pan global

Real Bread isn't a look, shape or style.

Our universally-inclusive definition encompasses every type of baked, steamed, fried, roasted, griddled bread: bap, bagel, bialy, injera, wrap, khobez, baguette, chleb, naan, chapatti, roti, stottie cake, lavash, ruisleipä, ciabatta, bara brith, Staffordshire oatcake, tortilla, paratha, porotta, pitta, pida… the list goes on around the globe. 

Real Bread is made and enjoyed by people of every age, nationality, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnic heritage, differing ability, neurological status, religion and economic background, who speak every language worldwide. 

A sliced white sandwich tin loaf can be Real Bread - it's just that industrial loaf fabricators tend to choose to use additives instead.


The Campaign's definition of bread above allows any natural ingredients, from salt and baker's yeast to seeds, nuts, cheese, milk, malt extract, herbs, oils, fats and dried fruits... as long as they themselves contain no additives.

What Real Bread isn't

The Real Bread Campaign believes that any product made using any additive should not be called bread.

Amongst the additives not used in Real Bread making are: Baking powder and other chemical raising agents; ascorbic acid; xanthan gum; added enzymes or any other so-called 'processing aids' - that exclusion applies to any additives in the flour, yeast, mix or other ingredients you use.

Gluten-free Real Bread

The Campaign celebrates gluten free Real Bread, as defined above. Unfortunately, the situation for people who want to avoid additives seems to be even harder for those who also need (or, for some reason, want) to avoid gluten.

Read more

The vast majority of commercial gluten free products fail to meet our simple Real Bread criterion and we are not aware of many independent gluten-free Real Bread bakeries. We have reached out to Coeliac UK a number of times to work together on discovering and championing gluten-free Real Bread. Sadly they have declined, apparently preferring to accept the use of additives instead. Our door remains open!

  • If you bake gluten-free Real Bread for sale, please add your details to our Real Bread Map.
  • If you've created a recipe for any type of gluten-free Real Bread that you’d be happy for us to publish in our recipes section please email it (ideally with a 1200x800pixel photo) to

Better bred bread

Not all loaves are created equal!

From our simple 'no additives' starting point, the Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet.

These can include using:

  • Longer fermentation, preferably in the presence of sourdough bacteria
  • Wholemeal or other less-refined flours
  • Stoneground flour
  • A single, continuous process (i.e. no part-baking or freezing of the dough)
  • Locally-milled flour
  • Low salt levels (1% or less of final product weight)
  • Certified organic ingredients

Please see our FAQs page for reasons why.

Is Real Bread the same as craft, artisan, fresh, organic etc?

Sometimes but not always.

  • Craft and artisan are terms that have no legal definition. Many bakers who use these words don't use additives...but some do.
  • Many bakers whose loaves are certified organic choose not to use any additives but, unlike our Real Bread definition, organic standards do still allow some to be used.
  • Traditional, natural and finest ingredients are terms with no legal protection. None guarantees a loaf was made without additives.
  • Claims of freshness do not guarantee that additives haven't been used. Despite official guidance, it is also open to being used to market 'bake-off' products: i.e. made elsewhere, chilled or frozen and then re-baked in-store.*

The only way to be sure is to read the ingredients list or (if the baker/retailer doesn't display one) ask a member of staff for it.

Read our call for an Honest Crust Act of better loaf labelling and marketing laws here.


The Real Bread Campaign believes that to be named or marketed using the word sourdough, bread must be:

  • Made without any additives (ie the criterion in our basic definition of bread)
  • Leavened only using a live sourdough culture, without the addition of baker's yeast.

Read more about sourdough and sourfaux

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.

Ways to support our charity’s work

Join today Buy gifts Make a doughnation The Loaf Mark

Real Bread Campaign
C/o Sustain
The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

The Real Bread Campaign is a project of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.

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Real Bread Campaign