Bread has an important role to play in UK consumers’ micronutrient intake, said Warburtons, following recent research commissioned by the company.

The report­ Micronutrient status and intake in the UK – where might we be in 10 years’ time? conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) on behalf of the bread manufacturer, examines the impact of a low micronutrient intake on the UK’s long-term health.

The research said: “The importance of micronutrient intake has been side-lined, as the health agenda focuses on obesity, and fat, salt and sugar intake. The decrease in consumption of traditional foods may also have had an adverse impact on micronutrient intake.

“Recent data has identified large sections of the UK population who may be at risk of inadequate intakes of a range of important micronutrients, including folate, calcium, iron, iodine, and vitamin D.”

Falling consumption of bread in the UK is a concern

The BNF told British Baker: “Estimated future intakes and/or status of some of the micronutrients found in bread, such as calcium, iron and folate, are low, particularly in adolescent females. As such, the falling consumption of bread in the UK is a concern.”

It said promoting bread consumption (particularly wholegrain) in the population groups ‘at risk’ of low intake and/or status of calcium, iron and folate, could help to improve intakes of these micronutrients amongst those most vulnerable to inadequacy.

Mandatory fortification of bread flour anticipated

Promoting wholegrain foods would also help the population to meet the new dietary fibre recommendations, it said, and added: “The introduction of mandatory fortification of bread flour with folic acid in the UK is anticipated, and such action is likely to improve the folate status of the population.”

It said that if energy expenditure continued to fall, low-energy, micronutrient-dense foods would be required, and offerings within the bread category could help to meet this need.

Ongoing research

Jill Charlton, senior manager of nutrition and quality at Warburtons, told British Baker: “Supporting this research is part of our ongoing commitment to helping the UK’s families better understand how to make healthy choices.

“Bread and bakery products are a good source of a number of micronutrients; according to the government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, bread provides 10% of our daily intake of protein, folate and iron, and around 20% or more of our fibre, calcium and magnesium.”

Warburtons’ Calcium & Vitamin D Sandwich Thins and Half & Half Toastie Bread are already geared towards enhanced nutrition – two slices of the Toastie Bread contain 24% of the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) for calcium. “However,” Charlton continued, “we are constantly looking for new ways to improve the nutritional value of our products, and this research will inform future NPD as we continue to support consumers to make healthier choices.”