A nine-month probe by the Real Bread Campaign, which is part of the UK charity Sustain, found that only one of the major supermarket chains was producing “real bread” according to its definition, which is that the authentic variety should only be made with flour, water, yeast and salt, with any additions being natural food ingredients, such as seeds, nuts, fats and fruit.
"The production of Real Bread does not involve the use of any processing aid or artificial additive of any kind," said the group.
And the report 'Are supermarket bloomers pants? A Real Bread Campaign investigation of UK supermarket in-store bakeries' found that only Marks & Spencer’s in-store bakery loaves met with this definition of real bread.
The report also highlights that many supermarket in-store bakeries do not bake every loaf fresh from scratch on-site but bake-off dough or part-baked loaves produced elsewhere, and the campaigners claim that such production demands around twice the energy of conventional breadmaking.
"Despite this, as in-store bakeries are classed as primary production sites, they qualify for financial incentives from government," argue the advocates.
The campaigners claim that incentives to reduce carbon should be tied to adoption by supermarkets of inherently more energy efficient processes such as baking Real Bread from scratch and using renewable sources of energy.
The Real Bread campaign also stressed that in terms of disclosure of ingredients for loaves that have been prepacked for direct sale or that are not wrapped, the law is on the side of the supermarkets, not the customer.
Due to the Food Labelling Regulations 1996, said the group, all that a supermarket has to indicate on the shelf labels or packaging of such loaves is the presence of certain allergens or the use of a flour treatment agent, the name and composition of which would not have to be given.