The truth behind a viral TikTok video that suggests loaves of bread are colour-coded according to the day they are baked has been revealed by an industry leader.
The video went viral this week after TikTok user Tony Zak shared a "hack" he claimed helped him avoid his bread going stale shortly after buying it.
"People always ask me, 'Why is everything I have always expired?' When it comes to bread though, I always have the freshest," he said in the video, which at the time of writing had been viewed more than 1.5 million people.
He detailed he always turned bread around at the supermarket so he could see the opening of the bag and the colour of the tag holding it closed.
"When we turn the bread over, we can see two clips. One red one, meaning it was made on a Thursday, and one white one, meaning it was made on a Friday," he told viewers.
The dates displayed on the tags seemed to confirm his theory – the white is stamped with February 24 and the red with February 25.
"And that is why I take the freshest bread all the time," he said.
More than 700 people responded in comments expressing their surprise at the theory, having never previously known the coloured tags carried any meaning.
"I have just been reading the dates on the loaves. The coloured tags will make it a lot quicker," one person wrote.
Some however were more skeptical, pointing out the loaves they normally bought only ever had one colour of tag.
It seems such cases are more common than initially thought, with only a select few brands including Helga's and Tip Top using the colour-coded system to indicate the day bread is baked.
Most brands simply add the date to tags of a single block colour, Mark Dennien, chairman at the Australian Society of Baking, told Yahoo News Australia.
"As far as the industry's concerned, there's not an industry standard for having different coloured tags for different baking days," Mr Dennien said.
"What normally happens is that on the quick lock [tag] there should be a best-before date or a production date on it.
"It's up to the individual companies to apply their own rules for that."
Mr Dennien added the majority of tags in the market were either white or a cream colour.
But Helga's confirmed to Yahoo News they used different coloured tags on their loaves depending on the day it was baked.
"We bake fresh every day around Australia and the coloured tags help our representatives who visit supermarkets each day to help quickly identify what day our bread was baked," a spokesperson from Goodman Fielder, which owns Helga's, said.
"We recommend that consumers look at the date stamp on the bread tag for best before date information."
Most bakeries don't use colour-coding
"I'm not aware of any bakeries that are using alternate colour-coded tags," he said, expressing he would be aware of a broad-scale industry practice given his board position at the National Baking Industry Association (NBIA).
"With the NBIA, we talk to the industry as a whole. I would think that this would be probably taken up if it was driven by one of the large retailers or one of the large manufacturers," he said.
Employees who claimed to work at some companies confirmed they used a system, but it wasn't necessarily the same as what the TikTok user shared.
“As I have worked for Tip-Top Bakeries for six years I can confirm the coloured tags are correct but ours is in a different order to the picture," one person wrote.
“I worked in bread and I can happily tell you this is true but different companies have different tag colours,” another also confirmed.
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