Bakers lose out after complaints about chef's call to 'ban squishy sliced pan'

Darina Allen’s comments were made on an RTÉ programme looking at white bread.

By Fora Staff

THE BROADCAST WATCHDOG has rejected a complaint from Ireland’s baking industry over comments from celebrity chef Darina Allen that “squishy sliced pan” should be banned from sale.

The Irish Bread Bakers Association’s appeal to the Broadcast Authority of Ireland (BAI) followed an episode of RTÉ’s What Are You Eating? – which the group claimed breached rules of objectivity and impartiality.

The association said a repeat of the programme, which aired in October 2016 and examined the Irish diet, looked at “the sliced pan category of bread in a wholly unfair and biased manner”.

It added that Allen’s comments conveyed the idea that sliced pan was “the most detrimental product on the market” when it came to national health and “should be categorised with other illegal substances” outlawed in the country.

Allen, who founded the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, said in the programme that she would ban “squishy sliced pan” as her first act if she was made health minister.

The association complained the high-profile chef’s comments were “unfairly critical” of what the bakers’ group said was “a nutritious staple of the Irish diet”.

It also objected to the programme’s methods of measuring nutrients following comments on the show that “a slice of white bread had the same amount of salt as a packet of crisps”.

The association claimed the salt content in a packet of cheese and onion crisps was, in fact, 50% higher.

“Apart from the overwhelmingly one-sided perspective offered by the selection of contributors and which resulted in an unbalanced and sensational report, the programme included a series of factually inaccurate claims,” the bakers’ group said.

90166716_90166716 Chef Darina Allen
Source: /Photocall Ireland

‘Sufficiently intelligent’

However in a decision published yesterday, the BAI noted RTÉ had invited “at least two major industrial bread manufacturers” on the show but none had agreed to appear and put forward their side.

Instead, the show’s producers, ShinAwil, recruited a DIT trainer in bread-making to come on the programme.

The programme-makers added their own research showed that white bread did contain the same amount of salt as crisps.

They said they were not aware of the existence of the Irish Bread Bakers Association until an initial complaint was received in September 2016.

RTÉ added that the suggestion that Allen’s comment about mass-produced bread being made illegal could be interpreted as a factual statement ”is an exaggerated and subjective interpretation”.

It believed that viewers are “sufficiently intelligent and aware” to be able to recognise a comment being made in “a light-hearted vein”.

The BAI, which unanimously rejected the bakers’ complaint, said there was nothing to show the programme’s producers lacked fairness or impartiality.

Reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha and Peter Bodkin.

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