UK bakery sector develops code of practice for sourdough17 Feb 2023
The Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers (ABIM) has issued a voluntary Code of Practice (CoP) to support the bakery industry implement best practice when producing sourdough bread and rolls – but critics have slammed it as misleading ‘sourfaux’ marketing.
The Code of Practice offers a detailed set of guidelines to assist with the baking, marketing, and labelling of sourdough. It includes definitions of sourdough, a section on how to produce the bread, regulations and codes of practice in other countries, and ingredient definitions for labelling purposes.
Sourdough terms and definitions used in the document have been agreed by the industry and will assist producers and consumers alike, according to ABIM. It will also help to prevent misleading labelling and preserve the “integrity” of sourdough and sourdough bread definitions and the methods by which they are produced, says ABIM.
Supported by several stakeholders including the Federation of Bakers (FoB), the Craft Bakers Association (CBA) and the United Kingdom Association of Producers of Yeast (UKAPY), the guide explains, “...sourdough is both a bread making process and an ingredient. It is the name given to a mixture of flour and water that has been allowed to spontaneously ferment...”
James Slater, president of ABIM said: “Our members and partners have been working hard for the last five years to unite the bakery sector behind shared terms for sourdough that allow each baker to express themselves freely whilst making it clear to consumers what‘s on offer.”
“We believe that that we’re there now and that this code of practice will play an important role in helping to make better, more delicious bread for all.”
Ingredients and processes should be clear
Section five of the document, titled ‘Suggested definitions for labelling and marketing purposes’, proposes three definitions - “Sourdough (product name)”, “(Product name) with sourdough and “Sourdough flavour (product name).” The code specifies that marketing terms should not mislead the consumer as to the true nature of the product.
Bread should only be labelled sourdough where live/active sourdough is used as the principle leavening agent and then followed by a product name. If the bread has used commercial bakers’ yeast as the principle leavening agent, then it can be described first with a product name then followed with ‘sourdough’ to differentiate it as ingredient.
Reject the ‘sourfaux code’, says Real Bread Campaign
According to ABIM, there are no regulations or codes of practice in the UK at present that govern the nature, production and labelling of sourdough products in the UK market.
Chris Young, co-ordinator of the Real Bread Campaign rejects the voluntary code and believes it has been published without the agreement of many “genuine sourdough” bakers in the UK.
In 2015, Young coined the word sourfaux to describe any product marketed using the word sourdough but made using additives and/or an alternative raising agent instead of a live sourdough starter culture.
Young emailed a letter to ministers Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs and Mark Spencer, minister of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and consumer protection bodies insisting that the proposed code conflicts with Article 7 of EU Regulation 1169/2011 and perpetuates confusion around sourdough that already exists.
“Rather than representing the views of the ‘UK Baking Industry’ as a whole, all the proposed code unites is a small number of companies seeking to profit from legitimising using the word sourdough in ways they see fit,” said Young.
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