More than 1 in 4 loaves of bread contain as much or more salt per slice than a packet of crisps, a survey has found.
The alarming findings follow news that bread is the largest contributor of salt to the UK diet, providing almost a fifth of current daily salt intake.
Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) surveyed the salt content of 294 fresh and packaged loaves from supermarkets and their in-store bakeries, as well as chain and independent high street bakeries, and found large variations in the salt content of the bread.
For instance, the highest standard packaged bread, Cranks Seeded Farmhouse at 2.03g/100g, contains nearly four times more salt than the lowest, a Marks & Spencer’s Simply More Eat Well Healthiest White Bread (0.58g/100g).
CASH found supermarkets’ unlabelled in-store bakery bread is generally higher in salt than the supermarkets’ packaged bread, with differences of more than half a gram between similar products.
Premium high street bakery chains such as Paul and Le Pain Quotidien also fared poorly, their bread being both unlabeled and in some instances containing more than three times as much salt per 100g than bread baked in supermarkets.
“Most people wouldn’t realise that bread contains so much salt, as it doesn’t taste salty,” said Katharine Jenner, CASH Campaign Director.
CASH said speciality breads, such as rye bread, are often perceived as healthier options; however, they can be deceptively high in salt. It advises consumers to choose products containing 1 gram or less salt per 100g, or about 0.4g per slice.
“With bread being the biggest contributor of salt to our diets, it is frankly outrageous that bread still contains so much salt. The Department of Health needs to ensure that all bread is clearly labelled and that all manufacturers reduce the salt of bread to less than the salt target of 1g/100g,” said Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and Chairman of CASH.
“It is the very high levels of salt that is hidden in everyday food, such as bread, that puts up both adults’ and children’s blood pressure. If all manufacturers cut the salt in their breads by a half, it would reduce our salt intakes by half a gram per day, which is predicted to prevent over 3,000 deaths from strokes and heart attacks a year.”
Popular packaged breads with highest salt content (per 100g)
*Cranks seeded farmhouse, 2.03g
*Vogel’s original mixed grain, 1.38g
*Asda Chosen By You Baker’s Gold white farmhouse, 1.2g
*Marks & Spencer Eat Well multigrain bloomer with 30% grains, 1.15g
*Morrisons thick sunflower and pumpkin loaf, 1.1g
Five loaves with lowest salt
*Marks & Spencer Simply More Eat Well healthiest white bread, 0.58g
*Tesco Stayfresh white sliced bread medium, 0.6g
*Marks & Spencer Eat Well oaty bloomer, made with 30% oats, 0.65g
*Marks & Spencer toasting white, 0.73g
*Sainsbury’s medium wholemeal, 0.74g