There is no turning back now. As of Friday, many of the breads we have been eating for almost 40 years will no longer be able to be made. And it is that on April 8 the regulations that limit the maximum amounts of salt in the bakery come into force. A regulation that the Government had to delay three years to allow bakers to adapt their recipes and packaging. What impact does this rule have on our daily lives? What does the Government have against salt?
The new “Bread Law”. The boom in artisan bread in recent years caught the regulations that had regulated its quality since 1984 out of the game. While its consumption plummeted from 57 kilos per capita in 1998 to 31.8 in 2018, the industry began to use (often torticus) terms such as “artisanal” or “mother dough”. For this reason, in 2019, the Government approved a new regulation that clarified definitions and ordered the country’s bakery offer.
The new text changed the legal definition of bread, its varieties, and also the taxes applied to it. In other words, it was a small revolution for bakeries, bakeries and manufacturers in general. However, there was one thing that remained pending.
The last of the measures that comes into force. At the last minute, the Council of Ministers included a limitation on the amount of salt that can be used to make ordinary bread. It was, as I say, a modification that was not in the previous drafts and, therefore, caught the industry with the wrong foot.
The new bread quality standard allowed a maximum of 13.1 g of salt per kilogram of common bread (if analyzed by chloride determination) or 16.6 g of salt per kilogram (if analyzed by total sodium determination) . But, in order to prevent “a condition from occurring in the consumption of bread and favor the production sector being able to modify the recipes”, the Government postponed its entry into force for three years. That deadline expires on Friday.
What does the Government have against salt? More than against salt, against its excessive consumption. To get an idea, in our country we consume an average of 9.7 grams of salt / person / day, almost double that recommended by the WHO. This is one of the main factors involved in the origin of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke.
The huge problem of hidden salt. Reducing salt intake has been shown to be one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to reduce the incidence of all these diseases. However, it is very difficult. It is estimated that between 70 and 75% of the salt consumed comes from foods processed outside the home. It is what is called “hidden salt” because individuals are not aware of the amounts they are consuming.
Awareness doesn’t work. In fact, it is not just a matter of training. The Barcelona team of Dr. Isabel Roig has spent years studying the impact of knowledge about the effects of salt on health and its consumption. Their conclusions are that, regardless of the knowledge that consumers have, the final consumption of salt is very homogeneous. Therefore, before awareness campaigns, it seems that the most effective measures should focus on the control of this “hidden salt” that prevents effective control of salt consumption.
A step towards food transparency. We have discussed a lot about ultra-processed foods and about the initiatives that, from the public administration, are being promoted to correct the perverse effects of the “invasion” of these products in our daily diet. This bread is just one more step in a complicated fight, but quite necessary for health.
Image | Jeremy Bezanger
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism