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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
EU changes rules on bread sizes
Loaves of pre-packed bread
The loaf is a popular part of the British diet
Sizes of pre-packaged bread in the UK may alter because the European Parliament plans to scrap rules on pre-packed goods.

The new directive will allow free weights and sizes for all pre-packed products, except for wines and spirits.

There had been concerns amongst MPs that the ruling would mean the end of the traditional British loaf.

But an EU spokesman said the ruling would still allow pre-packed bread to be produced in its current size.

Currently pre-packed bread in the UK has to be sold in 400g sizes, or multiples of that.

Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour said the directive was "good news" which would mean bakers could now sell pre-packaged bread in smaller sizes if there was a consumer demand for that.

'Greater flexibility'

"Obligatory national sizes for products will be lifted giving greater flexibility to producers," he said.

"They also have the freedom to opt for other sizes if they wish, to cater for particular groups of customers like single people who may prefer smaller loaves."

A number of MPs have signed a Commons motion saying that the removal of the size and weight restrictions would threaten the future of the traditional British loaf and called for an exemption to be made for bread.

But an EU spokesman said such claims were "ridiculous".

He said: "There is no intention to abolish the standard traditional British loaf. That is ridiculous.

"People will be free to buy bread and many other pre-packed goods in any size they want."

The EU directive will be voted on at the Competitiveness Council over the 21st and 22nd of May.

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