Labelling Bread

On the packaging of the food you have just purchased you will find a list of ingredients and next to this a Nutrition Information Panel.

In this section we look at the ingredients added to a basic dough of yeast, flour and water to get the bread we see on sale. Some of the most commonly used ingredients and the reasons why they are used are described below.


Salt not only provides its own flavour in bread but also helps to bring out the natural flavours of ingredients associated with it. Bread made without salt is extremely bland and virtually inedible. Salt assists with improving dough consistency so that it is easier to handle in the bakery. It helps the fermentation (rising) process by strengthening the protein network so that it traps more gas. This makes for a larger loaf.

Sugar and sweeteners

Sugar is added primarily to doughs to aid the fermentation process. During fermentation (rising) the yeast acts upon sugar to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. The alcohol produced evaporates during baking and the carbon dioxide remains to inflate the dough. The presence of sugar in the loaf helps to keep it moist, because sugar attracts moisture. Its ability to caramelise can improve crust colour and a small amount of sugar also improves the flavour of bread.

Acidity regulators

Acidity regulators are used to increase the acidity of a dough;

  1. To help control dough fermentation or leavening and reduce spoilage.
  2. Their main purpose is to prevent mould or bacteria growth in the loaf.
  3. Examples of these include vinegar, acetic acid (the acid from vinegar), citric acid and sodium diacetate.

Fats and emulsifiers

Fats and emulsifiers improve the volume, texture, crumb, colour, and softness of bread. They can also improve slicing characteristics, the amount of oven spring (how much the dough jumps in height and therefore volume when it is put in the oven), and improve the keeping quality of the bread.

An example of a bread emulsifier is lecithin, which is produced commercially from the soya bean. Lecithin may be added to bread recipes to help combine the mixture of water and vegetable oils present in the dough which otherwise would not form stable mixtures.

Fats have the power of controlling how fast the essential protein (gluten) network develops during breadmaking and can also make the dough easier to work with. They also add flavour and are used in almost all products.

Milk and milk powder

Milk helps keep a loaf moist and gives buns a soft crust. It is also added to improve the nutritional value and protein level in bread.

Malt flour and malt extracts

Malt flour is made from carefully sprouted, then kiln dried barley kernels. Some malt extracts are used to give taste and colour to bread, especially grain and wholemeal breads.

Other malt flours can be used to produce sugar from the starch in flour so that the yeast has more sugar to work on. They also help bread to stay soft and moist.

Flour treatment agents

A major flour treatment agent used in New Zealand is ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). The addition of this agent helps to strengthen the dough so it can retain more of the gas produced by the yeast. This helps to produce loaves of better volume and texture.


Enzymes are used to speed up the breakdown of starch into sugars that the yeast can use, which helps the dough rise more quickly. They improve the volume and crumb softness in bread. A common enzyme naturally present in flour is alpha-amylase.

Soyabean flour

Soyabean flour used in bakeries usually contains fats and enzymes. One of the enzymes reacts with oxygen present in air and bleaches any yellow colour and proteins that are present. This produces a whiter bread crumb. The addition of soyabean flour improves loaf volume, crumb softness and the keeping quality of bread.

Gluten flour

Gluten is the protein present in flour which is responsible for the structure and stickiness of bread dough. Gluten is mainly found in the white flour component of milled wheat. Cereals other than wheat do not contain gluten protein to any great extent, if at all.

To obtain gluten in a concentrated form, flour is mixed with water and the starch is washed out. The remaining gluten can be dried and bagged.

Gluten is added to doughs when the gluten in the dough being made is not present in high enough quality or quantity to produce a good quality loaf of bread. Gluten needs to be added to ensure the dough is strong enough to ‘hold up’ any extra components added to a recipe, for example wholemeal flour, wheat germ, oats, kibbled wheat, triticale and corn. Gluten is also added to wheat flour if it is not a very good bread baking quality flour. It helps to improve the volume and crumb texture of loaves.


The size of lettering on labels is now less restricted. Lettering must be legible, that is, clear enough to read, and in English. Specific sized lettering is only required for allergy warnings.

Bread Type

The name of the bread must correctly describe the bread. In the code the following terms are defined:

Bread means the product made by baking a yeast – leavened dough prepared from one or more cereal flours or meals and water.

Wholegrain means the intact grain or the dehulled, ground, milled, cracked or flaked grain where the constituents – endosperm, germ, bran – are present in such proportions that represent the typical ratio of those fractions occurring in the whole cereal, and includes wholemeal.

Wholemeal means the product containing all the milled constituents of the grain in such proportions that it represents the typical ratio of those fractions occurring in the whole cereal.

The Food Standards Code, sets out rules about ‘characterising ingredients’, that is, ingredients which make the bread different from other bread. These rules require the label to list the percentage of all characterising ingredients in the food. For example, Wholemeal bread labels have to list the percentage of wholemeal flour in the whole loaf or for a fruit loaf, where the percentage of fruit in the loaf must be listed on the label, or a milk loaf, where the percentage of non-fat milk powder must be listed. All percentages listed on the label are the percentage of the total product, that is, the whole loaf of bread. The percentage of any characterising ingredients can be listed in the ingredients list. For example, Wheat Flour, Wholemeal Flour (24%), Water, etc.

Ingredients have to be listed in order of quantity added from the largest to the smallest ingredient, based on their weight when they are added. (Losses of water during baking are subtracted from the amount of water first added to decide where water will be listed in the ingredients list). All ingredients must be listed, including all additives that act on the finished product in any way.

If composite ingredients (ingredients made up of other ingredients) make up over 5% of the finished product, they must have all their ingredients listed. For example, Butter is made of cream, water and salt so all of these must be listed if there is more than 5% butter in the bread loaf.

Composite ingredients that make up less than 5% of the finished product have to list all ingredients which perform a technological function in the finished product.

Bakery Address

The label should display the name and street address of the bakery, or someone who sells the bread, or someone who distributes the bread.

Nutritional Information Panel

The packaging must have a Nutritional Information Panel (NIP). Information per 100 grams and per serving size is required for: Energy in kJ, Protein in grams, Total Carbohydrate in grams, Sugars in grams, Total Fat in grams, Saturated Fat in grams and Sodium in milligrams.

There is no need for other nutritional information to be listed, unless a claim is made about it on the packaging, such as “High fibre content”. The number of servings in the package must also be included on the NIP.


Packaged bread must be date marked according to the following rules:

Best-before date: means that a properly sealed package of food, which has been stored correctly, should be of high quality until the marked date. It must also keep any specific qualities claimed for it until that date. The best-before date must be uncoded, and must be shown as numbers, except for the month, which can be written in letters. The day, month and year must be readable.
Baked-for date: means a date not later than 12 hours after the time the bread was baked.The ‘baked-for’ date cannot be later than 12 hours after the time the bread was baked. So bread that is baked after 12:00 pm (midday) can include a ‘baked-for’ date that is the following day. But bread baked before 12:00 pm (midday) cannot. A baked-for date must use either the words – ‘Baked For’ or ‘Bkd For’, with the date next to it, or it must say where the date is located on the label. The ‘baked-for date’ tells us the date the bread is being baked for. Sometimes bread is baked for sale the day after.
Baked-on date: means the date on which the bread was baked. The label on a package of bread with a shelf life of less than 7 days may include, instead of a best-before date, its baked-on date or its baked-for date. A baked-on date must use either the words ‘Baked On’ or ‘Bkd On’, with the date next to it, or it must say where the date is located on the label. If a product has a best-before date of less than 3 months, then the best-before date must show at least the day and the month; if the product has a best-before date of more than 3 months, then the best-before date must show at least the month and the year.
Storage Directions

Storage directions must show how to maintain the product for the product shelf life.

Allergen Warnings

There are special requirements for labelling allergens, which are ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction in a consumer. Examples of allergens are wheat, soy, gluten, sesame, nuts and bee products. The allergens must be included in the ingredient list, in 3mm size type, usually bold. For a product manufactured in a factory where allergen containing foods are also manufactured a comment such as the following should be included on the packaging – “this product may contain x or this product has been manufactured in a factory where x is manufactured.

Ingredient Limitations

There is a comprehensive list of food additive restrictions and maximum allowed levels set in the new food standards. Bread producers have to be aware of these when baking bread for sale.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for the food code which covers the whole of the food supply chain – from paddock to plate – for the food manufacturing industry and primary food producers. FSANZ develops food standards which apply to the composition and labelling of all foods produced or imported for sale in Australia and New Zealand.

The Food Standards Code is a collection of individual food standards which apply to food supply in Australia and New Zealand. All food supplied to consumers must comply with these food standards.

The Food standards exist to protect public health and safety, and to provide information about food which helps consumers to make informed choices about the food they buy and eat.

Over 100 000 food products are available on supermarket shelves. The way food is processed and they kinds of food we eat has changed enormously in the last 50 years. With so much choice, and so much processed food, the only way to know exactly what it is we are eating is through food labelling. It is important that we know not only which ingredients are in a food product, but also the way food has been prepared and processed, for example irradiation, a food preservation process.

To link to the Food Standards 2.1.1 Cereals and Cereal products, which includes Bread click here