The Federation of Bakers (FOB) recently launched its Slice of Life campaign in the UK part of which is to try and oust white bread's bad image.
But, UK-based nutritionist Carrie Ruxton told this site that when it comes to basic unfortified white bread, in terms of nutritional value, it is not worth eating at all.
“White bread has been given a lot of negative connotations and we’re trying to respond to these,” said Gordon Polson, director of FOB.
“There are benefits to wholegrain, but there aren’t negatives to eating white bread…It’s not unhealthy, it’s just different,” Polson told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“There’s nothing wrong with having white bread as part of a good, healthy and balanced diet.”
Not worth eating, says nutritionist
Ruxton said that white bread has a very high GI content and offered little fiber compared to wholegrain counterparts.
“Everybody knows that it’s got a higher GI. But GI is not the be all and end all of a balanced diet,” said Polson.
He added that in the UK, all white bread is fortified with calcium because of mandatory flour fortification laws, and so basic unfortified variants do not exist.
“We’ve got to put things into context and look at the broader picture, rather than just homing in on white bread and being negative about it,” he said.
Responding to consumer demands
Polson said industry has worked hard to innovate over the last 20 or so years – and bakery aisles now boast an array of bread products from regular white, wholemeal, seeded and oat varieties.
“People have been eating a greater variety of bread. One of the great successes has been products made with 50% white flour and 50% wholemeal flour – these breads are great for children… It’s a great example on how the offering has improved and changed,” he said.
“But, that doesn’t mean that there is no benefit in eating white bread,” he added.
Sliced white bread remains the biggest seller in the UK, according to FOB data, although sales are declining while wholegrain purchases are on the rise.
The FOB chairman insisted that there remains a place in the market for basic white bread, especially given it’s a clear favorite with many UK consumers.
“There are a lot of people who don’t like or enjoy eating wholegrain bread. We have to recognize that. Some consumers also can’t cope with higher fiber in their diets,” he said.
“We will supply, produce and innovate to give consumers the choice and they will vote with their purchasing power.”
UK bread makers want consumers to make informed choices and a broad choice with clear on-pack content communication is crucial to this, Polson said.