LONDON, ENGLAND — This year’s UK Flour Millers’ (formerly known as nabim) annual Fiber February campaign is highlighted by a webinar that includes a presentation on current research aimed at increasing the amount of fiber in white bread.
“Once again we’re pulling out all the stops to increase the public’s awareness and consumption of fiber in their everyday flour-based products,” said Priya Nicholas, communications manager at UK Flour Millers. “We’re particularly delighted to be working with partners who can effectively bring the message into schools, while working with social media influencers is a great way of showing that baking with flour is a fun way of increasing fiber intake.”
A slice of typical white bread has about 1 gram of fiber, whereas whole meal has about 3 grams. But Peter Shewry, a project leader at research institute Rothamsted, explained how his team is working to increase the current level of fiber from 4% to 6% through breeding techniques rather than genetic engineering.
“Around 49% of bread bought in the UK is white bread, compared with just 5% whole meal,” he said. “This is perfectly understandable, because it’s cheap, has a long shelf life, and consumers prefer the taste.
“But while you can’t change what people eat, we’ve been looking at increasing the fiber content of white bread without transforming it into something totally different that consumers won’t buy or increasing the price. We’ve developed genetic markers that can easily be used by plant breeders to identify which individual wheat plants have the high fiber genes. This will allow them to incorporate the high fiber into elite wheat lines — and opens the possibility of significant increases in dietary fiber intake for everyone.”
The new flour makes a quality white loaf, but with all the added health benefits that come from eating whole meal bread, including reduced cancer, diabetes and obesity risks, he said. It also provides an alternative to manufacturers producing loaves that contain both white and whole meal flours or have fiber from other sources added.
The campaign encourages consumers to think about increasing their fiber intake by making small swaps such as amending recipes to include whole meal flour, choosing 50:50, seeded or whole meal bread products.
A registered nutritionist will bring their expertise to the campaign, and three online influencers will each create video content of an existing FAB Flour recipe.
There also will be weekly competitions on Twitter, and to help spread the word in school, UK Flour Millers has partnered with “Food: A Fact of Life,” which has written dedicated classroom resources on fiber, and with the Food Teacher’s Centre, which will be running a social media campaign on its Facebook page to help promote the event and the resources.
For more information, visit ukflourmillers.org.