UK Flour Millers launches annual Fibre February campaign

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Rothamsted scientists are working on increasing the fibre content in white flour. Pic: GettyImages/fotodigital
Rothamsted scientists are working on increasing the fibre content in white flour. Pic: GettyImages/fotodigital

Related tags UK Flour Millers Flour Fibre fibre gap Gut health Obesity Fibre February

The UK Flour Millers has launched its annual Fibre February campaign, driving home the message that flour-based foods are a natural source of fibre.

This is the month when Brits are encouraged to stop and think about increasing their fibre intake – proven to be a critical component in improving digestive and heart health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and obesity.

Despite the benefits though, the fibre gap is a persistent challenge – with only 9% of British adults actively consuming the recommended 24g-30g fibre per day.

According to the UK Flour Millers, adding fibre to a daily diet plan can be as simple as small swaps – amending recipes to include wholemeal flour or choosing 50:50, seeded or wholemeal bread products.

Its Fibre February campaign has enlisted a registered nutritionist, who will share her expertise in making it easy to include fibre on a daily basis. It has also recruit three top social media influencers, who will each create video content of an existing FAB Flour recipe.

To get kids involved and enthused, UK Flour Mills has partnered with Food: A Fact of Life to spread the word in schools, while the Food Teachers’ Centre is running a spot on its Facebook page to promote the event. Ramping up the fun is a weekly competition on Twitter.

Helping a leopard to change its spots

The nation’s preference for white over wholemeal is well known, and as the old proverbial ‘a leopard cannot change its spots’ essentially remains true, UK researchers are working to make it easier for consumers to get their fibre fill.

This month, the association is hosting a webinar to highlight the research being done by a team of researchers at Rothamsted to increase the current level of fibre in white flour from 4% to 6% through breeding techniques rather than genetic engineering.

“Around 49% of bread bought in the UK is white bread, compared with just 5% wholemeal,”​ said project leader Peter Shewry.

“This is perfectly understandable, because it’s cheap, has a long shelf life, and consumers prefer the taste.

“But while you can’t change what people eat, we’ve been looking at increasing the fibre content of white bread without transforming it into something totally different which consumers won’t buy or increasing the price.”

According to the scientists, the new flour makes a quality white loaf – but with all the added health benefits that come from eating wholemeal bread. It also provides an additional route for bread manufacturers to produce loaves that contain both white and wholemeal flours, or with fibre from other sources added.

“We’ve developed genetic markers that can easily be used by plant breeders to identify which individual wheat plants have the high fibre genes,”​ added Shewry.

“This will allow them to incorporate the high fibre into elite wheat lines – and opens the possibility of significant increases in dietary fibre intake for everyone.”

'Pulling out all the stops'

Priya Nicholas, UK Flour Millers communications manager, said: “Once again, we’re pulling out all the stops to increase the public’s awareness and consumption of fibre in their everyday flour-based products.

“We’re particularly delighted to be working with partners who can effectively bring the message into schools, while working with social media influencers is a great way of showing that baking with flour is a fun way of increasing fibre intake.”

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