I have been ’Reporting In’ for about five years and, in that time, have seen a gradual evolution of technical issues and opportunities for the British baking sector.
The link between food and health has grown from interest to, dare I say, near obsession. Every food product or ingredient now seems to be either blamed or praised for its role in our health, with very little in between. Salt and fat contents in foods are being targeted and even built into government policy through the Food Standards Agency’s targets for reduction agreed with industry. Whether we agree with these targets or not, we must admit that the government has been effective at stimulating change.
In all of this, bread continues to occupy a central position. While fat reduction targets are important to the biscuit and flour confectionery sector, they are not so relevant for bread, apart perhaps from the move away from using hydrogenated fats. Salt content, however, continues to be an issue. Recent debate has focused on the impact on dough handling and ease of processing, but the effect on flavour and consumer acceptability should not be ignored.
Flour fortification, as a means of increasing the consumption of beneficial nutrients, is still on the agenda. After five years of discussion, folic acid is still a candidate. I wonder if a decision will ever be made. In other countries there are second thoughts too.
It is time to take stock, as I am leaving the UK to work in South Africa for the next three years. Many of the issues will be similar, I’m sure, but with a few different ones too. I hope some of these questions will be resolved by the time I return.
I have enjoyed ’Reporting In’ and I hope that you have too. Au revoir.