As ever, January sees the diet season kick off, with a plethora of different plans in national media and monthly magazines. In recent years, bread has come in for a bit of a pasting, with Atkins (and variations such as the south beach diet) followed in 2011 by the similar Dukan diet, promoted by a French doctor. Like Atkins, this has come under attack from many dietitians, who warn that cutting out carbohydrate containing foods such as bread can lead to a seriously unbalanced diet.
Then, there are many variations such as the paleo diet, real woman diet and so on enough diets for every day of the year, frequently using a celebrity for promotion and some of whom are ’bread-friendly, others less so.
Given the contradictory messages, it is not surprising that people are confused. In an effort to ensure that any comments about bread are based on accurate information, Nabim and the Federation of Bakers regularly commission research and reports from independent experts for example into wheat allergy and intolerance, the nutritional value of bread made in different ways (there’s no significant difference) and, most recently, bread and bloating. This work is intended to head off excessively negative comment about our products, but will only make a difference in the long run. However, there are promising signs, perhaps aided by the success of programmes such as the Great British Bake Off.
In parallel, the whole industry needs to speak up and promote a positive image for bread. This can be done in all sorts of ways through links with schools, local groups, promotional activity, breakfast clubs and so on, and also through collective efforts. Everyone has a role to play, and now is the time to explore the possibilities.