Food law and regulatory framework for artisan and small scale bread and bakery production, flour fortification, bread weights, labels and wood-fired ovens.

The first-ever Scottish Real Bread Festival will be held at The Bowhouse in St Monan’s, Fife, this Saturday, 25 February, organised by the award-winning local charity Scotland the Bread.

This new festival will celebrate real bread with a line-up packed with workshops, talks, hands-on activity and the awards ceremony for the Scottish Bread Championship 2023.

Many may have recently noticed reports of a speech made by Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health at the University of Oxford and boss at the Food Standards Agency.

The bit that caught the headlines was the claim that bringing cake into the office is as harmful as subjecting your colleagues to passive smoking.

Genuine sourdough bread comprises only three ingredients: flour, salt and water. Sourdough is not a trend or bandwagon to jump on, but the oldest traditional way of leavening dough, combining flour, salt and water to make delicious bread.

The Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers, Federation of Bakers, Craft Bakers Association, The British Sandwich and Food To Go Association and Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association have come together and presented Defra with a proposed ‘UK Baking Industry Code of Practice for the Labelling of Sourdough Bread and Rolls’.

The purported aim of the Code is to “clarify the term and prevent misinformation when it is applied to products in the UK bakery market”. The reality, however, is quite different and represents a sourfaux or pseudough charter.

Some of you may be thinking that with Brexit looming what’s the point of a piece on bakery law? Well, it isn’t going to happen anytime soon, may take a decade or more and even then little may change. So, food law has been around a while, it all started with bread - the Assize of Bread and Ale 1266 - and what follows are a few highlights in the current state of play.

The Scottish Government is calling for UK flour to be fortified with synthetic folic acid in order to reduce birth defects, especially neural tube conditions such as spina bifida. The UK government is still considering its position after positive recommendations from its advisors, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).

After a gap of at least two centuries, sourdough bread is making a comeback in Britain. But bread is notorious for not always being quite what it seems. In an echo of 19th century adulteration, some outlets are now putting the sourdough label on loaves that are far from the real thing. Andrew Whitley, co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign, author of Bread Matters and DO Sourdough – Slow Bread for Busy Lives, argues that ‘Real Sourdough’ needs legal definition via an Honest Crust Act to protect the public from ‘pseudough’.

The Government has decided to leave The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 unchanged after years of deliberation and a consultation. So the fig-leaf of fortification remains, but what we need is more nutrient-dense food.

As a part of the Red Tape Challenge to reduce regulation, Defra reviewed the need for the 1998 Regulations. The public consultation on ‘possible regulatory options’ ended on 13 March 2013.

What we eat should surely be a matter of choice? Not in the UK since the 1950s so far as bread is concerned, but change may be afoot. Whilst we defend the right to raw drinking milk, we need now to put the case for real bread.