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Wholemeal bread slices

Government food chiefs are set to clarify rules around the naming of bread made with a mix of white and wholemeal flour.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has been asked to look into the issue after the Real Bread Campaign raised concerns.

It wrote to five retailers and suppliers last summer, pointing out that they sold ‘half and half’ loaves featuring the word wholemeal on packaging, despite the products containing at least 50% white flour.

The Real Bread Campaign pointed out that, according to Section 6 of The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998: ‘There shall not be used in the labelling or advertising of bread, as part of the name of the bread, whether or not qualified by other words […] the word ’wholemeal’ unless all the flour used as an ingredient in the preparation of the bread is wholemeal.’

The campaign has argued that the law “clearly states” the word wholemeal can only be used in a product name or marketing if all of the flour in that product is wholemeal.

“Bakers helping people to trade up from 100% white to at least fifty-fifty is a good thing,” added Real Bread Campaign co-ordinator Chris Young. “What we don’t want to see is any marketing that’s misleading or otherwise breaches applicable regulations.”

The campaign has also contacted the trading standards departments with primary authority relationships with the five retailers and suppliers.

In the case of Hovis, this was Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards, which initially rejected the Real Bread Campaign’s concern over the labelling of Hovis Best of Both. But after the campaign contacted Surrey County Council, the legal manager at Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards responded, writing:

“Having looked at the legislation I have come to the conclusion that it would help achieve greater clarity if we referred the matter to the central government department responsible for the legislation. As the product is not the only one of this type on the market we think it is important to have a definitive view from central government so that coordinated advice can be given.”

The legal manager explained that they had contacted Defra with the relevant details and asked them for their opinion about how the regulations would apply to products such as Hovis Best of Both.

Earlier this month, Iceland withdrew from sale its own-label ‘50% white and wholemeal’, which is one of the five products the Real Bread Campaign originally raised concerns over.