Bakeries cheat on bread

2008-02-16 00:00

Chances are good that your local bakery or grocery store has cheated you several times with loaves of bread that are lighter than the prescribed standard.

The regulatory section of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) yesterday disclosed that about 23% of the country’s loaves are below the weight indicated on the packaging while the price is the same as that of a standard loaf.

SABS spokes-woman Betty Mollo said yesterday that 426 loaves from 197 bakeries in all nine provinces were examined during a SABS survey. Ninety-nine (23%) were lighter than the law requires.

“The province with the highest number of offenders was the Eastern Cape, where 30% of the bread examined was underweight,” Mollo said in a statement.

“The province with the lowest number of offenders was Free State, where only 15% of the loaves were too light.”

Jaco Marneeck, SABS manager of inspection regulations for trade metrology, told Weekend Witness that in KwaZulu-Natal one in four loaves tested was underweight. But of the seven worst offenders in the country, only one is in KZN: Emnambithi Bakeries in Ladysmith.

Mollo said SABS issued warnings to 17 bakeries that have not been showing the correct weight on their bread.

Marneeck would not name other bakeries found to be selling underweight loaves. “We’ve only decided to disclose those that show the lowest average in the country,” he said.

The following bakeries recorded the lowest average bread mass, according to SABS:

•AIB Bakeries in Mamelodi, Pretoria, whose 700 g white loaves were on average 56 g underweight.

•Soshanguve Spar, north of Pretoria, whose 700 g brown loaves were on average 86 g underweight.

•Glo Bakeries in Vosloorus, East Rand, whose 700 g brown loaves were on average 69 g underweight.

•Emnambithi Bakeries in Ladysmith, whose 600 g brown loaves were on average 62 g underweight.

•Rainbow Bakery in King Williams Town, Eastern Cape, whose 600 g white loaves were on average 68 g underweight.

•Checkers Big Bay, Seaside Village, Bloubergstrand, whose 700 g white loaves were on average 40 g underweight.

•Kenworth Spar in Bloemfontein, whose 700 g brown loaves were on average 76 g underweight.

If you bought bread from one of these bakeries for a year, you could have been cheated out of more than R50.

In terms of Article 45 of the Trade Metrology Act, the worst offenders in each province must be named, said SABS CEO Martin Kuscus.

SABS said information about the offending bakeries will be handed to public prosecutors for legal action.

Marneweck said that underweight loaves are a big problem. “Don’t just pay. Once in a while, take a loaf of bread, put it on a scale and see if you’re satisfied,” he said.

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