In a debate held at Foodex at Birmingham’s NEC yesterday, former politician Michael Portillo questioned Sara Autton on the issues of salt and sugar regulation within the industry.
Having reduced salt levels, Autton said more work needed to be put in to find ways to get flavour back into bread, so the public can enjoy it as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Autton said: “The difficultly with reducing salt levels further than they are now is that we’re getting to the level where it’s becoming more technically difficult to make bread that people recognise as bread, that tastes good and has its keeping qualities.”
Portillo also asked whether regulation was a “terrible nuisance” or whether there was a commitment within the industry to improve the public’s health.
“I think there is a commitment to improve the nation’s health, but we need to improve the nation’s health in a way that people can still enjoy these products as part of a healthy, balanced diet,” she said.
“In my part of the industry, we’re very conscious that the aspect of balance seems to have dropped off the agenda, and we think we can make a good contribution towards the nation’s health in conjunction with the education of people as to what a healthy balanced diet is, and how they can adopt it easily and in a way that they can afford.”
Autton also commented on new labelling legislation coming into force at the end of the year, and said that as large retailers drive for clean labelling, the industry is increasingly challenged to do more with less in terms of ingredients.
She said: “I think that’s going to throw up some challenges in the near future - for example, trying to get products with longer shelf-life with fewer preservatives. That’s a key one that we’re dealing with at the moment.”