Source: Getty Images

Supermarkets are using white flour as a processing aid or a dressing for some of their wholemeal loaves.

Details of the use of white flour emerged when retailers responded to questions from the Real Bread Campaign about the presence of non-wholemeal flour in wholemeal loaves.

The campaign wrote to bosses at Aldi, Asda, The Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose asking why wheat flour with added calcium carbonate, niacin, iron and thiamine appears on the ingredients list of some of their wholemeal loaves.

“The absence of the word wholemeal before this ingredient in each product’s ingredients list, and the addition of so-called fortificants to it, suggests to me that it is not wholemeal flour,” explained Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young.

Under Section 6 of The Bread and Flour Regulations (1998) a loaf cannot be called ‘wholemeal’ unless all the flour used as an ingredient in it is wholemeal.

The campaign has asked the retailers if all the flour in their own-brand loaves is wholemeal and, if not, when the company will be changing either the recipes or names to comply with the regulations.

So far, three of the six retailers have responded:



Everyday Essentials Wholemeal Bread

“The wheat flour in the ingredient declaration is a processing aid and as such, this wouldn’t usually be declared. However, due to the allergen it is declared on pack.

“The fortified wheat flour within the ingredient declaration is wholly from processing aids within the recipe. These processing aids use fortified wheat flour as a carrier for enzymes, emulsifiers, preservative and Flour Treatment Agent. The fortified wheat flour is declared because it is following the allergen labelling legislation whereby all allergens, including processing aids, are to be declared. Fortified wheat flour is a different allergen to wholemeal wheat flour and therefore declared separately.

“We take on board the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 but believe we conform to these – the wholemeal bread is made purely from wholemeal flour but does use processing aids containing fortified wheat flour as detailed above.”



The Bakery at Asda Farmhouse Wholemeal and Extra Special Farmhouse Wholemeal & Rye Bread

”We agree that the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 requires that nothing other than wholemeal flour is used as ‘an ingredient in the preparation of the bread’ and that the fortified flour types listed here are not wholemeal.

“The Bakery at Asda Farmhouse Wholemeal is made with wholemeal flour only and baked in line with the regulations. Post bake, a very small amount of wheat flour is sprinkled over the bread which has been customary for generations.

“Our ingredients lists are a single continuous list, as is perfectly lawful and quite common, hence, those lists don’t immediately indicate where the wheat flour is. However, both products make reference to the flour sprinkling in the legal name of the food and hence the customer is absolutely clear what that flour is used for.”



Loaves including Essential Waitrose Wholemeal and Waitrose Wholemeal Farmhouse Medium Sliced

“The only flour used in wholemeal loaves as a standalone ingredient is wholemeal flour. The fortified wheat flour also listed in the ingredients is not wholemeal flour but is a carrier of the key ingredients added to a loaf of bread in small quantities to ensure customers get the quality and shelf life they expect.”


The Real Bread Campaign has yet to receive responses from The Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.

The campaign also targets own-label and branded loaves over the use of the word wholemeal in the marketing of ‘half-and-half’ bread.