The Federation of Bakers is keeping a “watchful eye” on European proposals to restrict healthy-eating claims on breads that exceed a certain level of salt.
The European Commission hopes to confirm proposals by the spring, which would cover the level of salt that bread can contain in order for it to make health claims such as ‘high in fibre’.
Bakers would not be able to make a positive health claim unless salt levels were below a certain level - a yet to be decided amount, but potentially between 1g and 1.2g for every 100g of flour.
This compares to the much-publicised voluntary FSA target for bread manufacturers of using only 0.93g of salt per 100g of bread by 2012, which is under consultation.
Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson said: “[The EC and FSA targets] are quite different. From what I understand, any levels that might be suggested would not impact unfavourably on UK bread. We are keeping a watchful eye on it, but we won’t know any more until the end of the month.”
An FSA spokeswoman said the EC and FSA targets should complement each other, although she stressed they were only a proposal. “The EU levels are higher than the level that we’re proposing for reducing salt in bread,” she said. “The UK has done a lot more to reduce salt in bread than any part of the EU.”
German bakers had raised concerns that the planned food labelling rules would render some German breads such as pretzels unhealthy due to their salt content.
Speaking at a meeting on food labelling in Brussels, EC commissioner for health Androulla Vassiliou dismissed press reports that it had any plans to ban bread high in salt. “The Commission is not banning any bread and has no intention of regulating the salt level in bread,” she said. “What we are doing is setting the levels of salt which food products need to respect if they are to make a claim.”
She also announced that the EC would allow bread with higher salt content to display health claims, for a “limited period” pending further reductions. She said nutrient profiling should take account of salt reduction initiatives promoted at national and community level.