Supermarket bread in asbestos scare, bakery replaces its old ovens

An industrial baker which makes bread for the Albert Heijn and Jumbo supermarket chains has admitted that three of its factories have had problems with asbestos over the past two years.

In at least one instance, a consignment of bread destined for a supermarket was recalled from a distribution centre because of potential contamination. The claims will be made by current affairs show Zembla on Thursday evening.

The recalled bread was made by the Bakkersland bakery group factory in Zwanenburg, west of Amsterdam, Zembla said in a preview of tonight’s show. There have also been problems in the ovens at the company’s Waalwijk and Wateringen plants.


Many bakeries still use old ovens in which asbestos has been used in the insulation. This can be released if the insulation is damaged.

The company is now replacing the ovens, a process which will take two years.

This, the company is quoted as saying, is not a problem because there is no scientific evidence that eating asbestos is a health risk.

Experts dispute this claim, saying there has not been proper research. They also say asbestos should be removed from ovens as soon as possible.


Bakkersland, which has a workforce of 2,100, turned over € 434m last year, Nos television said. The company has 16 factories nationwide.

The company has admitted the three incidents took place but says it always works safely because the insulation material is closely monitored for damage.

Wim van der Linden, former chairman of the company’s works council, told the programme makers industrial bakers do not have the money to replace the ovens because of low margins. If supermarkets were willing to pay more ‘all the ovens could be replaced,’ he said.

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