The art of craft

Real Bread Campaign calls on FSA to regulate terms like ‘craft’ and ‘artisan’

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Real Bread Campaign has called on the FSA to back its long-standing calls to ministers for improved regulations and then help to ensure they are properly enforced. Pic: GettyImages/Alla Tsyganova
The Real Bread Campaign has called on the FSA to back its long-standing calls to ministers for improved regulations and then help to ensure they are properly enforced. Pic: GettyImages/Alla Tsyganova

Related tags: Real bread campaign, Fsa, sourdough, regulations, Labelling, Marketing, artisanal bakeries

While the Campaign has hailed the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) strategy for 2022-27, an open letter has called for tougher regulations to recognise the craft sector and level the playing field for small business owners.

The FSA has published its five-year strategy for 2022-27, setting out its mission as a regulator watchdog and policy maker to ensure a healthier and more sustainable food system.

The Real Bread Campaign has hailed the strategy, noting it aligns with its own long-standing and ongoing call for an Honest Crust Act to prioritise loaf labelling and marketing regulation.

According to Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young, it also supports his own work to recognise the importance of regulations when it comes to labelling and marketing of ‘real bread’ to better protect shoppers and create a more level playing field for small business owners.

However, in an open letter to FSA chair Susan Jebb and FSA CEO Emily Miles, he has again requested backing for the Real Bread Campaign’s vocation and tougher rulings.

“Will you back the Real Bread Campaign’s long-standing calls to ministers for improved regulations and then help to ensure they are properly enforced?

Doing the right thing for consumers

Young is a proponent on protocols set out in concrete rather than relying on industry to self-regulate.

He wrote, “History shows that it is regulation, rather than voluntary, opt-in schemes, that ‘make it easier for businesses to meet their obligations and do the right thing for consumers.

“As such, key points of our proposals include:

  • Mandatory declaration of all additives, including those sometimes deemed to be ‘processing aids’.
  • Mandatory full ingredient labelling (or display at point of sale) for all loaves, rolls, wraps, etc., including those sold unwrapped/not prepacked.
  • Legal definition of ‘fresh’, ‘freshly baked’, ‘baked today’ and similar claims, limiting their use to products made from scratch in the past 12 hours and without the use of preservatives.
  • Legal definition of the word ‘wholegrain’, ensuring it is only used to name or market products in which at least 51% by weight of the dry ingredients are unrefined grains, flakes, meal or flour.
  • Legal definition of ‘sourdough bread’ as made without additives and leavened only using a live sourdough culture.
  • Meaningful legal definitions for other words commonly used to name and market grains, flour, bread and industrial baked products, including ‘artisan’, ‘craft’, ‘ancient’, ‘heritage’.

“Can we – shoppers and bakers – count on the FSA’s support in making this a reality?”

Leading role

He has also requested the FSA take a leading role in research to build on the compelling body of evidence that indicates the nutritional benefits of grains.

“Our Honest Crust Act proposals are driven not only by a need to underpin everyone’s ability to make better-informed choice for whatever reasons they want to make them, but also evidence of specific need and benefit.

“For example, the authors of an examination of 1,230 peer reviewed research articles published between 1990 and 2020 on the subject of sourdough noted, ‘The most recent literature showed how the sourdough fermentation mainly increased mineral bioavailability, enabled fortification with dietary fibres, lowered glycaemic index, improved protein digestibility and decreased the content of anti-nutritional factors’.

“Researchers have also found how sourdough fermentation can modify and reduce the proteins that trigger the coeliac response.

“This clearly indicates a need for more research to be funded and carried out on the potentially beneficial effects of sourdough fermentation.

“Will the FSA take the lead on this?

Young has extended an invitation to FSA (and other stakeholders) to aid research by getting in first-hand accounts from business owners and their customers.

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