By Georgi Gyton
Bakers across the country are up in arms over the new Food Standards Agency (FSA) campaign, which aims to educate consumers on the ’hidden salt’ in foods such as bread, sandwiches and pizza and urges them to choose products with the lowest salt levels.
The thrust of the campaign, which went live on Monday 5 October, is based on FSA survey results, which reveal that 77% of consumers are unaware that bread and breakfast cereals are among the top salt-contributing foods in people’s diet.
Speaking at Bakers’ Fair, Anthony Kindred, a director of the National Association of Master Bakers and owner of Kindred’s Bakery in London, said that after all the work carried out to achieve lower salt levels, this new campaign is "kicking bakers where it hurts".
However, the FSA insists it is not suggesting consumers eat less bread. "We want to encourage people to eat bread; we just want people to choose bread with lower salt," said a spokesperson for the FSA.
"We really appreciate all the work the industry has done so far, but the fact they’ve met the 2010 target doesn’t mean they cannot reach levels that are even lower."
The campaign literature could also be seen to suggest consumers switch from buying branded loaves, stating that "supermarket own-label versions of some foods, including bread, are often lower in salt than the branded versions".
Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers (FoB) said one of the main problems with the campaign is that it does not tell consumers the whole story. "It seems unfair to differentiate between different types of bread when all our members are on target to meet the 2010 targets."
He said the FoB was disappointed that all the work that had gone on to reduce salt had not been recognised. "We have responded to what the FSA has asked us to do and we have done it. I don’t see what else we can do," he added.
Jan Thomson, co-owner of Thomsons Bakery in Newcastle Upon Tyne, said the key issue for craft bakers is that the FSA has suggested that supermarket own-label is the lowest in salt. "In a craft baker’s shop, we don’t have labels for customers to check," she said. As a result she plans to promote the fact the bakery meets FSA targets with signs in the shop window.