Craft bakers selling unwrapped loaves cannot take advantage of the recent relaxation of bread weight laws, which abandons specified loaf quantities, because the new legislation only applies to packaged bread.

As reported in British Baker, an EC directive to be introduced next April will scrap ancient restrictions that limit loaf sizes, weighing more than 300g, to multiples of 400g. However, unwrapped bread falls outside the directive’s scope.

The National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) has launched a consultation, due to close in January, proposing that rules governing unwrapped bread weights should be relaxed in line with packaged loaves.

In the meantime, The National Association of Master Bakers is advising craft bakers who sell unwrapped loaves to stick to the ’400g rule’ until the rules are clear. "Bakers need to be sure they are not going to fall foul of their Trading Standards Officers (TSOs)," said a spokesperson.

LACORS told British Baker that, in "99.9% of cases", TSOs would not prosecute bakers selling unwrapped bread outside specified quantities, but that they would be "technically breaking the law".

Warburtons and Tesco are among those already selling packaged loaves outside the traditional 400g-multiple format.