Bakery retailers selling products that have previously been frozen could be forced to label them as ’defrosted’ under proposed EC legislation.

UK retailers and food manufacturers are fighting to overturn the recently added amendment to draft legislation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers. This proposes to make it mandatory for food products that were previously frozen, but are sold fresh, to be accompanied by the term ’defrosted’ next to the product name.

It is not yet clear whether the legislation would apply to both packaged and unpackaged products, but par-baked breads, thaw-and-serve cakes and frozen sand-wich ingredients could all fall foul of the rule, if brought into force.

"[We are] concerned that, if this goes ahead, it will simply add to the complications and costs of labelling for sandwich-makers and producers of chilled foods generally," said Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich Association. "Bakers using frozen part-baked products, for example, could be affected. We are assessing the implications with our members and will be encouraging the UK Government to strongly resist this proposal."

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium added: "We believe the current legal position is perfectly adequate and there is no need for a change in the law. There are good reasons why food is frozen and defrosted. It manages demand, reduces waste and offers consumers more choice. You could only make a case for changing the law if there was a belief that the customers were being misled and there is no evidence of this. It’s certainly something we’re opposed to."