A recent survey conducted by the Real Bread Campaign found that more than 71% of the 1,300 Briton’s sampled believed it was unacceptable for processing aids used to enhance bake quality not to appear on the ingredients lists of loaves.
The European Union’s Food Information Regulations do not require food additives and food enzymes used as processing aids to be included in ingredients lists.
Not present in final product
Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, said that processing aids were killed off by heat during the baking process so needn’t appear on packaging as the aids are not present in the finished product.
“It would be strange to label something that is not in the final product,” he said.
“If the people had an understanding what processing aids were and knew that they were not in the final product their view might be different. They probably did not have the situation explained to them properly,” he added.
However, Chris Young, project officer at the Real Bread Campaign, said processing aid residues or their by-products could remain in the final product and his organisation’s website claimed they could produce harmful effects.
He pointed to a study from the Professional Associations' Research Institute for Occupational Medicine in 2000 that found residues of the processing aid fungal alpha amylase, a known allergen, in the crusts of baked loaves. The study said the allergen was linked to baker's asthma, but said it was doubtful whether the enzyme could affect regular bread consumers.
Polson said: “Fungal alpha amylase occurs naturally in wheat, therefore it could be present as a residue in all bread, including bread made by members of the Real Bread Campaign.“
Current legislation allows for processing aid residues to be present in the final product.
Young said: “We're saddened that that the proposed new EU regulation that was supposed to support the consumer's right to be able to make fully informed choices about the food they buy looks like it will perpetuate what we see as the processing aids loophole.”
“We would be interested to know if Mr Polson is able to give the British public an assurance that all members of the Federation of Bakers have tested every one of their products made using processing aids to ensure that no trace of either the processing aids remain. If not - when will they be carrying out tests in order to be able to give this reassurance?”
When asked for his response, Polson said: “The Federation of Bakers and its members work in accordance with the law and will continue to do so.”