A delegation from the Real Bread Campaign (RBC) has met with government representatives to discuss the RBC’s demand for legislation.

The proposed legislation, informally known as An Honest Crust Act, would create legal definitions for terms used in the naming, labelling and marketing of loaves. It would also ensure that more comprehensive additive labelling become mandatory.

Other matters discussed at the meeting between RBC and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) on 20 January included not potentially misleading consumers through labelling and marketing, including words such as artisan, sourdough, freshly baked, wholegrain and bakery fresh.

It was also suggested that, as an industry, we should be ensuring shoppers are able to make fully informed choices, by requiring all bakers and retailers to display full lists of ingredients, plus any and all processing aids and other artificial additives, at point of sale for all loaves.

By way of response, Defra suggested industry self-regulation or investigating the EU geographical indications and traditional specialities schemes as a potential route to differentiate genuine sourdough from other loaves.

It also pointed to guidance issued by the Food Standards Agency in 2008 in respect of terms used during labelling. While this document covers a range of terms, including ‘freshly baked’, it does not include sourdough, artisan or wholegrain.

process of consultation

The RBC will now consider the options discussed and begin a process of consultation with its supporters.

Following the meeting, Defra said: “We have recently been looking at the ROI guidance you referred to at our meeting and will keep in mind whether we should produce something similar.”

Other EU member states have guidance and even laws governing loaf labelling and marketing. The French Décret n°93-1074 du 13 Septembre 1993, for example, includes regulation of the use of terms including ‘sourdough’ and ‘traditional French bread’.

Last May, The Food Safety Authority of Ireland published The Use of Food Marketing Terms, which is designed to ensure that consumers are not misled by the use of marketing terms on foods.