Campaign group slams sourdough code of practice

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Real Bread Campaign urged Defra to reject a proposed sourdough code of best practice
The Real Bread Campaign urged Defra to reject a proposed sourdough code of best practice

Related tags: Bakery

The Real Bread Campaign has claimed that a proposed sourdough code of best practice is likely to confuse consumers, bully smaller producers and legitimise the production of non-genuine sourdough bread.

Signed by a group of five trade bodies (see box below) and presented to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the code has claimed to clarify the term sourdough and prevent misinformation when it is applied to products in the UK bakery market.

The code would also permit – where space and skills are lacking – the use of processing aids, other additives, baker’s yeast and other leavening agents that help simplify the process, which The Real Bread Campaign claimed were not used in the genuine production of sourdough bread.

Campaign coordinator Chris Young said the proposed code would undermine the integrity of the word sourdough with muddled meanings that would “make things more, not less, confusing for shoppers”.

‘Sourfaux’ free-for-all

“Its adoption would create a ‘sourfaux’ free-for-all, which would also have a negative impact on Real Bread bakeries of all sizes that bake genuine sourdough,”​ he added.

The campaign group urged Defra to reject the proposed code, on the basis that shoppers, consumer organisations and “a majority of Britain’s genuine sourdough makers” ​were not consulted on its implementation.

Young also raised concerns that, should this code come into effect, many smaller producers ran the risk of being pushed out of the market by larger companies.

‘Bully their way in’

He added: “We work with hundreds of bakeries that create more jobs per loaf through crafting genuine sourdough and other Real Bread to nourish people in their local communities. Industrial loaf manufacturers came late to the sourdough game and are now attempting to bully their way in as if they own it.

“Side-lining the true custodians of the ancient craft, trying to rewrite the rules to suit their own commercial needs, and cashing in with fundamentally different products is just wrong.”

The Campaign noted that consumers were legally protected from the misuse of descriptors including wholemeal, organic, high-fibre, low-salt and low-sugar and said similar protection should be extended to prevent the misuse of bread/bakery descriptors, including wholegrain, freshly-baked, sourdough and artisan.

UK Baking Industry Code of Practice for the Labelling of Sourdough Bread and Rolls

  • The Association of Baking Ingredients Manufacturers
  • The British Sandwich and Food To Go Association
  • Craft Bakers’ Association
  • Federation of Bakers
  • Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association

Related topics: Bakery, Operations

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