Mon, 4 Mar 2013 | By Sebastian Joseph
The UK’s biggest bakers have dismissed claims they are misleading shoppers when marketing wholemeal and wholegrain breads after a report from food welfare charity Sustain accused them of not being clear about the ingredients in their products.
The UK’s biggest bread brands have slammed claims they are misleading shoppers when marketing healthy breads.
The charity’s ‘A Wholegrain of truth’ report argues for clearer laws on how wholegrain and wholemeal breads are marketed following an investigation last year into the health claims made by several producers including Hovis and Warburtons.
Campaigners are accusing manufacturers of misleading shoppers with products branded as wholemeal by regularly using soya flour and refined gluten powder instead of what should be 100 per cent wholemeal according to regulations.
The charity claims “a mockery is being made of legislation designed to protect the integrity of nutritious and delicious wholemeal bread.”
Despite this, manufacturers are not breaking the law because neither of the ingredients met the regulation’s definition of flour, according to regulators. Sustain argues, however that regulations are unclear and that manufacturers are “abusing” the law.
Additionally, the report calls for the word wholegrain to have a legal definition in the UK after finding content was regularly low and in some cases non-existent in breads making wholemeal claims.
Kingsmill Oatilicious, which is marketed as a wholemeal bread, but only contains 21 per cent of ingredients from a grain, was highlighted by the charity, alongside Warburtons White Plus Whoelgrain range, which it claimed did not use any ingredients with the words wholemeal or wholegrain at all.
The UK’s Federation of Bakers,which represents the interests of the nation’s largest baking companies, has dismissed the claims as being “misinformed” and “misleading.”
Director, Gordon Polson, says: “Misleading information such as this is potentially harmful to the bread industry. Bread is a key part of the British diet and there is no reason that consumers should not continue to enjoy it as part of a healthy balanced diet.”
The sentiment was echoed by Kingsmill and Allinson owner Allied Bakeries, which adds “no action is required” because consumers already have all the information needed on current packaging to make an informed choice.
Elsewhere a spokeswoman for Warburtons told Marketing Week it was in discussions with the campaign’s organisers about “incorrect” claims about the brand made within the report.
She adds: “The report from the Real Bread Campaign: ‘A Wholegrain of Truth’ was misleading and incorrectly made claims about one of our products, White Plus Wholegrain. The claims were made based on the ingredients list for another product, White Plus Calcium which does not include wholegrain and does not make a wholegrain claim.
“The ingredients list on the back of pack for White Plus Wholegrain, which is now no longer in production, did list wholegrain and complied fully with the relevant legislation. The Real Bread Campaign have admitted their mistake and corrected their report to remove the claims against our product.”
Sustain’s investigation in 2012 looked at products from Allinson, Warburtons, Kingsmill, Greggs, Asda, The Co-operative, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose.
The accusations come amid growing calls from the food industry and the public for manufacturers to allay food provenance fears in the wake of the horse meat scandal.