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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL5781, tabled on 31 January 2022

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to introducing a legal definition of (1) sourdough bread, and (2) other sourdough products.

Answered on

14 February 2022

Defra alongside the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Northern Ireland and Wales, Food Standards Scotland, DHSC, and the Scottish and Welsh Governments are currently conducting a review of The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 and The Bread and Flour (Northern Ireland) Regulations 1998 to ensure the regulations are fit for purpose and support UK industry while protecting consumers. To assist the review, DEFRA convened a technical working group made up of a wide range of relevant stakeholders to help identify and explore the issues around the regulations which cover the compositional requirements of bread and flour. As part of this, the working group is exploring the use of the term "sourdough", to assess whether providing a definition of sourdough in any legislative changes to the Bread and Flour Regulations would be beneficial to protect consumers.

The UK maintains high standards on the information provided on food labels and packaging so that consumers can have confidence in the food that they buy and as part of the Government's Food Strategy, we are reviewing how food information, including labelling, can be improved. Existing food labelling rules and other requirements on the control of additives in food production ensure that food is produced safely and labelled effectively to enable consumers to make informed choices on the food they buy and consume.

Bakers, including those producing sourdough products, can effectively market their products on their own merits within the rules as they stand, and legislation supports such marketing so long as it is not misleading. While discussions around the term "sourdough" are still ongoing, legislative intervention is just one option and should be restricted to areas where there is clear market failure. The Government is supportive of non-regulatory measures and encourages further work on the draft industry code of practice which could help achieve a better mutual understanding in this area.