Bread :: Warning over bread salt content

New research carried out by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has revealed large differences in salt levels between wrapped breads on sale in the UK.

Bread is the biggest source of salt in the UK diet, contributing between one fifth and one quarter of our average intake. In the survey, the highest salt breads contained two and a half times as much salt as the lowest salt products.

CASH looked at 138 loaves of wrapped bread ? branded and own-label ? for sale in UK supermarkets and compared the salt content as declared on the label. 50 of the loaves surveyed ? 36% – contained more than the FSA?s target salt level for bread, 1.1g salt per 100g.

The lowest salt bread found was Burgen?s Wholegrain and Cranberry (0.55g salt per 100g), closely followed by Marks and Spencer?s Seeded White (0.6g salt per 100g). The highest place was shared by two products, which both contained 1.5g salt per 100g: Asda?s Medium White Big Loaf and Morrison?s The Best Farmhouse Malted Bread.

?The differences in salt content between these breads may appear unimportant,? said Jo Butten, Nutritionist for CASH, ?but we eat so much bread, as a nation, that these variations can add up to major differences in the amount of salt we eat. For instance, if someone ate two slices of toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch using Morrison?s The Best Farmhouse Malted Bread then their daily intake from those four slices of bread, at 0.7g of salt per slice, would be 2.8g of salt. Compare this to Asda?s Malted Brown Sliced Bread, which contains 0.4g salt/slice. Four slices would provide a person with 1.6g salt. This is a difference of 1.2g salt/day, a fifth of the maximum 6g limit for the whole day. In children the differences are even more important. For instance, for a child of six, a difference of 1.2g is over a third of their maximum limit of 3g a day, so choosing the lower salt bread could have a large part to play in that child keeping under their recommended limit.

?People need to be aware of these differences and seek out the lower salt options, avoiding breads that contain more than the FSA target of 1.1g of salt per 100g, which includes just over 36% of the bread we surveyed.?(1, 2)

The big variations in the salt content of bread were evident even within different categories of bread with some white loaves containing around 150% more salt than others and some granary and malted loaves having almost double the salt content of others. Some wholemeal loaves contained over 50% more salt than others.

In many cases, brand names had higher levels of salt than the supermarket own-label equivalent. 64% of the breads that did not meet the FSA target were branded products. In the case of Warburton?s, the UK?s second-largest grocery brand, 83% (15 out of 18) of its breads that were surveyed had a salt content higher than the FSA target, whereas all of the Sainsbury’s and Waitrose breads surveyed were below the FSA target.

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