Action on Sugar has removed bread from its list of unhealthy foods, following direct action from the Federation of Bakers (FoB).
The FoB was concerned that by including bread in the campaign, it was misleading to consumers and that eating bread was not something to be discouraged.
Last month Action on Sugar called for the introduction of a sugar tax and called on a reformulation to reduce sugar by 40% - and included bread on a list of products it claimed had too much sugar.
Gordon Polson, director of FoB, told British Baker: “The industry needs to reassure the general public that bread is not high in sugar, and is a valuable part of a healthy diet. White bread typically does not have any added sugar and is usually all naturally occurring. Even if a small amount of sugar is added (for example in some wholemeal loaves), the ‘total sugars’ in bread are still below 4g per 100g, and so will be classified as ‘low sugar content’ and coded green on front-of-pack voluntary information (anything containing 5g of sugar or less).”
In response to this, Action on Sugar said: “We did include bread in the list of products containing ‘large amounts of sugar’, which Action on Sugar acknowledges is not accurate, especially as much is naturally occurring. The table on the website however, is a list of ‘Amounts of sugars per portion of some well-known food and drink products’, and is a useful guide for shoppers to be aware to check the label.”
This reaction followed Action on Sugar’s seven-step plan to reduce the nation’s sugar intake to tackle obesity. Part of this plan included reducing added sugar in foods by 40% and introducing a sugar tax on foods.
Sugar tax "flawed"
Polson argued that the levels of sugar in bread are proportionately low, and did not need to be targeted.
He said: “Linking a sugar tax to the sugar content in bread is extremely flawed. Even if a sugar tax was suggested by politicians, it would never apply to a product that is low in natural sugar, such as bread. To suggest otherwise, does not recognise the reality of such a proposal.
“It’s worth noting the levels of naturally occurring sugar in common everyday, healthy foods to help put the sugar content of bread into context. For example, bananas contain 20g per 100g, apples 11g, and porridge with whole milk 4.8g.”
The recent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report, backed by the Action on Sugar campaign, advised the government that the recommended daily sugar intake should be cut by half. This is the equivalent of 25g of sugar a day for women and 35g for men.
Polson also pointed out that part of the report reiterated that carbohydrates should be 50% of dietary energy.
He said: “It is therefore important that consumers continue to eat bread as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Bread plays a vital role in UK diets providing many nutritional benefits, contributing to our carbohydrate, fibre, iron, calcium and thiamine intakes.”