Half and half bread pulled from supermarket shelves in naming protest

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A protest group has launched a campaign against ‘half and half’ bread which has seen loaves pulled from shelves in some supermarkets.

Activists from ‘The Real Bread Campaign’ claim that, as a result of their efforts, Iceland supermarket has withdrawn its own-brand ‘50% white and wholemeal’ loaf – after it lodged a trading standards complaint.

Iceland is one of five companies the Campaign wrote to in June 2022 about the naming and marketing of ‘half and half’ products. It is asking them to review the marketing, reports the Liverpool Echo, saying legally the word wholemeal ”can only be used in a product name or marketing if all of the flour in that product is wholemeal”.

The Campaign says it continues to follow up its complaint about Hovis, Jacksons and Warburtons. It also made official complaints to Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, Buckinghamshire & Surrey County Councils, Hull City Council and London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The group claims one council is now referring the complaint to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young said: “The law is clear on what you can and can’t name and market using the word wholemeal.

”It’s good to see Iceland’s move in line with this, though they could’ve just renamed the product. The problem here is that the law and official guidance clearly state that the word wholemeal can only be used in a product name or marketing if all of the flour in that product is wholemeal.

”While we’re working hard to convince the government to improve loaf labelling and marketing legislation in the UK, it’s a worry if manufacturers and retailers can’t even follow the law as it stands. Evidently, there’s an issue with the content, understanding and enforcement of current legislation, a full overhaul of which is long overdue.

“Bakers helping people to trade up from 100% white to at least fifty-fifty is a good thing. What we don’t want to see from industrial loaf fabricators is any marketing that’s misleading or otherwise breaches applicable regulations.

”While they’re at it, we’d love to see them ditching the additives they use, all of which are unnecessary by definition.”

The Campaign says it also continues to lobby the government to review regulation of the words wholegrain and wholemeal as part of its wider Honest Crust Act work. The five loaves the campaign has targeted are Hovis: Best of Both, Iceland: 50% White and Wholemeal, Jacksons: Bloomin’ Both, Warburtons: Half White Half Wholemeal.

The companies have been contacted but none have provided an official comment. The Bread Campaign said ”having received unsatisfactory responses from two of the companies, and no response at all from the other three, we emailed the trading standards department of LB Tower Hamlets, the local authority for where the Real Bread Campaign is based”.

The Campaign says the Legal Manager at Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards wrote to it stating it is referring it to Defra. The council wrote: “Having looked at the legislation I have come to the conclusion that it would help achieve greater clarity if we referred the matter to the central government department responsible for the legislation.

”As the product is not the only one of this type on the market we think it is important to have a definitive view from central government so that coordinated advice can be given. This service has contacted Defra with the relevant details and asked them for their opinion about how the Regulations would apply to products such as the one in question.

”Once we have received the opinion from Defra we will review our advice and contact you to inform you what the result is.”

Chris Young added: “The existing, outdated Bread and Flour Regulations are no longer fit for purpose, if indeed they ever were. A full review and overhaul is long overdue but the government continues to resist our Honest Crust Act proposals for up-to-date composition, marketing and labelling legislation.”

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