Legislation covering wrapped bread weights is set to be scrapped in the UK next year, after an about-turn by the European Parliament.
An amended version of the EU Nominal Quantities directive, voted on last month and just published, will deregulate weights and sizes for all pre-packed products, except for wines and spirits.
The EU had been set to allow an exception for bread, but before a second vote in Parliment, the text of the regulation was suddenly changed to exclude bread. The directive will alter rules governing packaged breads in the UK; currently the law here states that bread over 300g must weigh 400g or a multiple of 400g, such as 1,200g.
Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson said there was now "no going back". European authorities would probably complete remaining legal formalities by summer or autumn. The UK government would then be likely to repeal weight regulations some time next year, he speculated. The Department of Trade and Industry may decide to set out new proposals, covering deregulation on both pre-packed and unwrapped breads, he suggested.
National Association of British and Irish Millers director general Alex Waugh commented: "It’s very disappointing that the view of the European Parliament’s expert committee was not voted on in the end. It will be difficult for the sector to adapt."
Scottish Association of Master Bakers chief executive Kirk Hunter said: "Craft members will have mixed views and a number will be concerned about confusion in the marketplace. We may see moves on unit pricing."
National Association of Master Bakers’ parliamentary officer, Chris Dabner said the association was waiting to see what the DTI would do: "Although bread is sold by weight, customers buy on whether it looks large or small. If weights are deregulated custo-mers could be misled if a loaf looks large."