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Healthy bread, professional training and the relevant European legislation


We have discussed healthy bread in previous posts on this blog. We talked about the importance of making bread with cultivated sourdough also previously in other posts. We even wanted to believe in the health benefits of fermented foods such as sourdough cultures.

All this has brought us to the point of asking ourselves, what do the regulations say about it? Should healthy bread be an option or an obligation among the different types of bread that are offered in the market? What does the legislation say about it? What is being done at a training level?

We chatted with Carlos Mariel and Daniel Kühne, two of the teachers for Spain and Latin America at the Richemont Craft School in Lucerne. They have been teaching bakery and fine bakery courses in these fields for years and will help us understand the qualification and knowledge situation in the bakery sector.

We asked them about the importance of bakery and pastry training and qualification. We also inquired about the new Bread Quality Standard Law which could be considered the most innovative and progressive standard of those currently existing in Europe and in the world, and entered into force in Spain on July 1, 2019.

The Bread Quality Standard in Spain could be classified as a quality standard, which falls within the concept of healthy eating. It provides some relevant novelties such as parameterization and the establishment of minimum values so that bread can be sold in Spain as "sourdough bread". The standard establishes that the sourdough starter (grundsauer = basic sour) will have a minimum acidity of 4.2 pH and 6 TTA, of 4.8 pH in the bread dough before baking and of 4.8 pH in baked bread.

These values will guarantee the consumer to be able to buy breads with good digestibility, low glycaemic index, good bioavailability and excellent total nutritional values, as we have already commented in other posts on this blog.

The question that automatically arises is whether the Spanish bakery sector in particular and the European bakery sector in general has the knowledge and understanding to be able to make healthy breads on a regular and continuous basis, complying with these requirements, taking into account that breads made outside of Spain, but sold on the Spanish market must also comply with Spanish regulations.

Q: What is your opinion on the new Spanish Bread Quality Standard?

A: The April 2019 Quality Standard is novel, progressive and innovative. It will regulate a sector that, with the old law of 1984, was totally unprotected and uncontrolled. It has aspects that must be specified and improved, such as the lack of the Master Baking Degree and Pastry Master's Degree, which the standard requires but which does not yet exist in Spain and which does exist in other European countries, such as Switzerland and Germany.

The definition of cultivation sourdough is very precise when the standard insists that it must be spontaneous (natural) and without additives. We like that the pH is at 4'8 for MMC (crop sourdough) breads. It is an easy way to measure, which can be used by all bakers, even without specific knowledge in the field. Specifically, in the field of wholemeal bread there is a noticeable progress as now it is required to be made with 100% wholemeal flours.

Q: Are the control parameters introduced for sourdough breads very demanding? Are they necessary and justified from a sensorial, nutritional and healthy point of view?

A: What you are looking for in sourdough bread is to have a low pH of at least 4. According to studies, when a bread has this pH it means that it has had a slow fermentation and that the polysaccharide sugars have been broken down into monosaccharides and, thus are able to feed the yeast and achieve a lower glycaemic index than fast bread. As for gluten, proteins are also degraded. This makes the bread more digestible, healthy and of course tastier. So, answering your questions, the control parameters are relatively easy to achieve and yes, they are necessary if we want to ensure that bread is really healthy.

Q: What needs to be improved at a professional level in the future and what are the challenges for the sector so that this standard can be fully applied?

A: We are answering these questions at a time where we are immersed in a global pandemic, caused by COVID-19. It is a special moment in which bakers are at the forefront of supplying the population, something very worthy of being appreciated.

On the other hand, we have a lot to improve at a professional level in Spain, compared to our European colleagues (France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, etc.). In these countries, DUAL training is implemented, and it means that the apprentices are perfectly prepared to enter the labour market when they finish their studies. Their training, as in the case of Switzerland, takes three years, of which 4 days a week they are in the workshop practicing and on the 5th day they go to school for the theoretical part. Three days a year they attend the Richemont Craft School or state schools where they are supervised by the Richemont Craft School to check that everyone has the same knowledge. At the end of the three years, they take an exam at the bakery where they have done their internship, to obtain the baker's degree.

As for the industry's challenges in implementing the standard, it is a matter of returning to slow bread. Making healthy, nutritious and of course tasty breads can only be achieved with training and support from the administrations to implement a DUAL Vocational Training and support the small baker so that he can access the training and, of course demand results. Keep in mind that many bakers are altruistic and don't have any training. They only bring the knowledge that was passed on from generation to generation. These people are neither trained nor can they be required to comply with the new law because they have not had the means. This would be required though to entirely apply the standard.

Q: Any other suggestions or additional points that you want to add?

A: As Dr. Félix López Elorza told us at the 1st Richemont Sourdough Summit in Lucerne (Switzerland): "Dear bakers, make good bread, it is in your hands and we will help you."



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Sunday, 10 December 2023

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