Three in every four loaves of sliced bread sold in supermarkets contain as much salt or more per slice than an entire packet of crisps, new research shows.
According to Action on Salt (AoS), some breads have more sodium per serving than two small portions of McDonald’s French fries.
The study looked at 242 branded and own-brand wrapped, sliced industrial loaf products sold by Aldi, Asda, Iceland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Co-operative and Waitrose. The brands included Allinson’s, Hovis, Kingsmill and Warburtons.
The saltiest was Hovis White Loaf with starter dough, which contained 1.48g per 100g – almost three times more than the bread with the lowest salt content; Waitrose Rye and Wheat Dark Sourdough Bread at 0.51g.
As sodium is a major factor in raising blood pressure – the world’s biggest killer – the organisation is urging PM Rishi Sunak to follow other countries by setting mandatory reduction targets.
According to the research, even small reductions in the salt content of bread will have a significant impact on public health. Just a 6% reduction would remove 962 tonnes of salt from the UK diet per year.
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The organisation also claimed that while the majority of breads fall below the 2024 maximum salt target by the Department of Health and Social Care in 2020, the large variations mean that targets are too lenient.
The loaves with higher salt content included Aldi’s Village Bakery Both in One with 0.96g per 100g, Hovis Seeded Bread at 1.15g and M&S Thick White Super Soft Loaf at 1.03g.
Asda The Bakery White & Wheat Loaf was one of the lower salt content breads with 0.79g per slice, alongside Morrisons The Best Thick Cut Multi-Seed Load at 0.67g and Aldi Village Bakery The Traditional White Bloomer Bread at 0.63g.
“Bread is the single biggest contributor of salt to our diets and therefore even the smallest of reductions in salt would go a long way for our health,” said AoS nutritionist, Sheena Bhageerutty.
AoS chair and Queen Mary University of London professor of cardiovascular medicine, Graham MacGregor said the issue was a “disgrace,” adding “it’s time for the government to stop letting people die needlessly.”
British Heart Foundation senior dietitian, Tracy Parker agreed: “The government urgently needs to look at a mandatory programme which will drive the industry to remove salt from their products. This will help to level the playing field and better protect the nation’s heart health.”