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Why one bread is no longer enough : The Standard



Only one in four loaves of bread randomly selected in a city supermarket met the weight indicated on the wrapper.

In what could be the biggest fraud on consumers, one loaf of bread weighed on a supermarket’s own scale indicated it was short by a tenth – a 41 grammes – of the 400 grammes shown on the label.
The heaviest was just 4 grammes over the specified weight, suggesting that the average consumer is unlikely to get value on bread – a typical component in breakfast.
Removing the weight of the nylon packaging estimated at about 5 grammes, none of the loaves sampled made the cut.

SEE ALSO :22 People die in violent protests against high cost of bread

It was a fact-finding mission commissioned by The Standard in the wake of a vibrant discussion online after a consumer claimed a loaf of bread he bought weighed only 339 grammes.
On the flip side, it would demonstrate a determination among bakers to squeeze as much as possible from their customers in their push for profit.
Criminal offence
The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) said it had formally received complaints about underweight bread, saying it was a criminal offence on the part of bakers.
“It is an unscrupulous way of maximising profits. It is an unethical and legally actionable offence under Consumer Protection Act, 2012,” said Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro.
Mr Mutoro made reference to the specific incident reported of a loaf weighing 339 grammes, indicating that while the calibration of the machine could be put to test, it was “obvious” that bread sizes were increasingly diminishing.
“What is not in question is that the size of bread has drastically reduced. We have reported the matter to the Director of Weights and Measures under the Ministry of Trade,” he said.
Due to the public outcry relating to the underweight pre-packed bread presented by the consumers’ lobby, the Government said it planned to send inspectors to assess the scale of the fraud.
“Once we obtain evidence, we will sue for compensation,” Mutoro said, hinting at possible litigation in connection with other household consumables too.
The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade would be on the spot for failing to protect consumers by ensuring that commodities adhere to the weights and measures guidelines.
In the ministry’s mission statement, manufacturers and traders in pre-packaged commodities are required to mark the accurate statement indicating the correct quantity.
Such information would help the consumer make an informed choice of the product they intend to buy, the statement reads.
While the loaves were found to be generally of the same size, some had bigger air spaces upon inspection, resulting in less overall weight.
For the ordinary household, underweight bread could mean buying an additional loaf for a meal.
Overstating the weight of such bread, if deliberate, could mean the bakers squeeze a truckload of bread from every ten.
This comes nearly two decades after an industry-wide decision to cut the regular bread size by 100 grammes, from 500 grammes, in a bid to retain prices in the midst of rising wheat prices.
A steep tax was imposed on imported wheat in the early 2000s to encourage local production, translating to costlier bread and pastries.
The irregular reduction in size affected Kenyans who enjoyed the significantly bigger bread that also had more slices in the 1990s. One loaf of bread could be shared by more people at the breakfast table than today.
Internationally, the minimum acceptable weight deficiency is 3 per cent, meaning the least the regular 400 gramme loaf should weigh is 388 grammes.

breadConsumer Federation of Kenya

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