On 17 May 2023 the Real Bread Campaign wrote and sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Minister of State at Defra, urging the UK government to withdraw its endorsement of an ‘industry code of practice’, which looks to legitimise the use of baker’s yeast and additives in products named and advertised using the word sourdough.
The distinction between sourdough and other bread is its fermentation process which allows the loaf to rise naturally, from a mixture of wild yeast and bacteria. This is in contrast to additives commonly used in other breads to cause them to rise in a quicker and more efficient period.
According to the Real Bread Campaign, the letter was signed by more than 1000 people across the UK which included bakery owners and workers, people from related businesses and organisations and others who added their names as supporters of small businesses.
The letter came in response to a reply to a written questions from Dnaiel Zeichner, MP. On 20 February 2023 Mark Spencer the Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs wrote: “The Government welcomes the development of a code of practice by the UK baking industry to help with consistency and best practice in relation to the labelling of sourdough bread and rolls.”
The Real Bread Campaign rejects this endorsement, as they wrote in the letter: “By rendering the word sourdough as confusing as the now-banned term wheatmeal, and meaningless as the unregulated term farmhouse, it also feels like a dereliction of duty towards protecting shoppers from being misled.”
The campaign has been advocating for years for a recognition of the unique formulation and production of sourdough and has rallied against what it calls ‘sourfax’: bread purporting to be sourdough and as a result, is sold for twice the price of its counterparts.
In the letter the campaign included Mr Spencer’s response, as he said: “Industry codes of practice can provide a useful resource to support a level playing field for businesses.”
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