Consumers advised to use their loaf when choosing bread


CASH is pleased to see that since publication of this survey...

  • The salt content of Vogels Mixed Grain Loaf has been reduced by 46% and the level of Cranks Seeded Farmhouse by 61% meaning that they now all meet the Department of Health's 2012 salt targets. This is great news for their customers. 
  • Morrisons has introduced nutritional information for their bakery range onto their website

 

This release contains an addendum*, see below for more details

2nd September 2011

  • 1 in 4 loaves of bread contain as much salt per slice as a packet of crisps 
  • Bread is responsible for a fifth of our daily salt intake 
  • Scandal of no labelling on freshly baked bread
  • Bread from high street chain bakeries found to be saltiest

View full media coverage here

Find out what the industry and other health charities have to say

Click here for full data

New research has found that bread, whether it be your morning slice of toast, your lunchtime sandwich or dipped in your soup, could be packed with hidden salt.  Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) surveyed the salt content of 292 fresh and packaged loaves from supermarkets and their in-store bakeries as well as chain and independent high street bakeries [Ref 1] and found that more than 1 in 4 (28%) loaves of bread contain as much salt, or even more, per slice than a packet of crisps! [Ref 2] These findings comes soon after the Department of Health announced that bread is the largest contributor of salt to our diet, providing almost a fifth (18%) of our current daily salt intake [Ref 3].

CASH’s research has highlighted large variations in the salt content of bread, making it essential to read the labels, where available, and compare products by 100g (equivalent to 2 thick slices of bread [Ref 4]). 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).

5 of the highest salt popular packaged breads per 100g

  1. Cranks Seeded Farmhouse 2.03g**
  2. Vogels Original Mixed Grain 1.38g**
  3. ASDA Chosen By You Bakers Gold White Farmhouse (400g) 1.2g
  4. Marks & Spencer Eat Well Multigrain Bloomer Made With 30% Grains 1.15g
  5. Morrisons Thick Sunflower & Pumpkin Loaf (400g) 1.1g

The fresh bread available from in-store supermarket bakeries and high street bakeries has no nutritional labelling available in store, making it impossible for consumers to either choose lower salt options, or to know how much salt they are eating.  The research found supermarkets’ unlabelled in-store bakery bread is generally higher than the supermarkets’ packaged bread, with differences of more than half a gram between similar products. For instance Sainsbury’s fresh ‘Large Wholemeal Loaf’ contains over half a gram (0.55g) more salt per 100g than the packaged equivalent (Medium Wholemeal) (1.29g per 100g compared to 0.74g per 100g).

You might expect premium high street bakery chains such as PAUL and Le Pain Quotidien to be providing healthier options, but this research has found that as well as being unlabelled, some high street chain bread contains more than double the amount of salt per 100g as bread baked in supermarkets (a Pain Complet from PAUL contains 1.76g/100g compared to Waitrose White Long Split Tin which contains 0.84g/100g). Bread from a local independent bakery however fared much better in the survey, with one white loaf found to contain just 0.56g/100g, almost half of the Department of Health’s 1g salt target [Ref 6].

4 of the highest bakery breads per 100g*

  1. PAUL, Pain Complet (brown) 1.76g*
  2. PAUL, Pain Ancien (white) 1.62g*
  3. Le Pain Quotidien Blanc de Campagne (white) 1.41g
  4. Gregg’s Large Sandwich (white) 1.39g

“Most people wouldn’t realise that bread contains so much salt, as it doesn’t taste salty” says Katharine Jenner, CASH Campaign Director, based at Queen Mary, University of London. “You certainly wouldn’t expect to be eating more salt than a packet of crisps in just one slice of your favourite bread! It is scandalous that there is no labelling on fresh bread, without it, how are we supposed to know where salt is hidden and cut our intake to less than 6g a day?”

Most packaged breads available in supermarkets have clear labelling on the front of the pack – however as NONE of the products have a green ‘traffic light’ label, CASH would advise you to choose products containing 1 gram or less salt per 100g, or about 0.4g per slice.

Speciality breads, such as rye bread, are often perceived as healthier options; however they can be deceptively high in salt. For instance, Schneider Brot Organic Rye Bread with Sunflower Seeds contains over one gram (1.02g) of salt per slice (1.43g per 100g).

Children should eat even less salt than adults [Ref 7], however a recent study showed that infants were far exceeding their daily allowance, as many parents frequently feed their child bread, not realising bread is a salty choice [Ref 8]. Parents could feed their children up to a gram less salt a day just by making their sandwiches with the lowest salt bread.

5 of the lowest salt popular packaged breads per 100g

  1. Marks & Spencer Simply More Eatwell Healthiest White Bread 0.58g
  2. Tesco Stayfresh White Sliced Bread Medium 0.6g
  3. Marks & Spencer Eatwell Oaty Bloomer Made With 30% Oats 0.65g
  4. Marks & Spencer Toasting White 0.73g
  5. Sainsbury’s Medium Wholemeal 0.74g

“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 [Ref 6],” says 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 [Ref 9].”

CASH were pleased to see that, although they are still too high, salt levels in bread have come down by a third (30%) in the last 10 years [Ref 10], with some breads being reduced by more than forty percent. Tesco Value Medium Sliced Wholemeal Bread for example has been reduced by 43% in the last 10 years from 1.75g/100g to 1.0g/100g while Sainsbury's Medium Wholemeal loaf has been reduced by 41% from 1.25g/100g in 2001 to 0.74g/100g in 2011, showing that bigger reductions are easily possible [Ref 11]. Local councils are doing their bit too, for instance in Barnsley 64% of bread sold in independent bakeries already meet the Department of Health 2012 targets [Ref 6,12], and  Surrey County Council has awarded a ‘salt award’ to those bakeries that were doing the best work.

Dr Susan Jebb, Chair, Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal Food Network says "It's great to see the cuts in the salt content that some companies have made to our daily bread. Reducing salt intake is vital to decrease the risk of high blood pressure, and the number of people suffering stroke and cardiovascular disease. I hope these survey findings will urge more companies to commit to the reformulation targets set by the Public Health Responsibility Deal and to make the rest as good as the best."

Hannah Brinsden, CASH Nutritionist says “Even a small difference in the amount of salt in your bread can make a big difference over a day or week. Bread is rarely eaten on its own, the combination with salty toppings and sandwich fillings such as ham, cheese and beans make for a surprisingly salty meal. See our top tips to help keep your salt intake down.”

Top tips:

  • Look at the label and choose breads with 1g or less per 100g or less than 0.4g per slice
  • Choose low salt fillings for your sandwiches, such as chicken, tuna or plain cheese spreads/mozzarella and salad
  • Try swapping beans on toast for scrambled egg or mushrooms on toast
  • Avoid salty spreads such as mustard, marmite, salted butter and pickle
  • The thicker the slice, the more salt it contains, so stick to medium sliced loaves and be careful not to cut bread too thick if you buy it unsliced
  • Try making your own bread at home with no salt – for recipes visit our website at www.actiononsalt.org.uk

*Addendum

Our original press release included 4 breads from PAUL, the figures for which were calculated from sodium figures stated on the company's own website. They have since announced a mistake on their site, whereby salt figures were incorrectly quoted as sodium figures. In light of this we have changed the figures used in our release to those that we collected from our own independent sampling conducted on May 17th 2011 (analysed by a public analyst at Kent Scientific Services); the figures are for the Pain Complet (1.76g salt/100g) and Pain Ancien (1.62g/100g). The Pain de Campagne and Pain Aux Six Cereales have been removed because we accept that the figures on PAUL's website were incorrect at the time of the survey and we have been unable to independently verify the salt contents of these products. The survey now contains 292 breads. We are very happy that PAUL have since announced their plans to reduce salt in their bread by 14% and look forward to working with them in the future.  See below for a comment from the PAUL CEO.

 

CASH is pleased to see that since publication of this survey, the salt content of Vogels Mixed Grain Loaf has been reduced by 46% and the level of Cranks Seeded Farmhouse by 61% meaning that they now all meet the Department of Health's 2012 salt targets. This is great news for their customers"

What others have been saying

PAUL - Since this survey was published PAUL has announced that they will be reducing the salt content of their UK breads by 14%.They have also issued a release clarifying some of their figures. Click here to view full statement

ASDA have said 'The FSA 2010 target is an average of 1.1.g /100g and across our range we meet the target.  We are committed to FSA 2012 targets and will continue to progress towards the target 1.0g (average) / 100g'

Cranks "Cranks continuously monitors its salt levels across the entire product range and is always exploring ways to reduce the levels of salt present, taking measures to see where they can be reduced and improved upon.Cranks Bread is 100% organic and made without the use of emulsifiers, enzymes, mould inhibitors or time dough additives, using only 100% natural recipe ingredients, baking methods and traditional fermentation processes.Cranks will continue to review the salt content in its bread without compromising the Cranks quality ethos and the natural processes used in its product development."

Vogel's - click here to view

Stroke Association

Dr Lorna Layward, spokesperson for The Stroke Association says; “Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure which is the single biggest risk factor for stroke.  It’s so important to read labels and check how much salt food contains, but what about products like bread which don’t tend to taste salty and have no labels, but actually contain a significant amount of salt?  Although many people recognise that too much salt can be bad for them, they may not realise that before you add any salt to your food, you may have already consumed up to five times this amount without even tasting it. We need clear labelling on all food products so we can make real choices about what we eat.”

British Heart Foundation

Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Contrary to popular belief, salty food doesn’t necessarily have to be junk food. A lot of bread is clearly packed with sodium and because it’s such a staple part of our diet, bread can end up significantly bumping up the amount of salt we eat each day.Worryingly, some loaves are missing important labels showing nutritional information, making it incredibly difficult for shoppers to make healthy choices.We know too many people are eating too much salt each day which can have an effect on their blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. Some manufacturers are working towards targets for salt reduction, but we need more action to cut the salt content in bread and make sure they provide colour-coded food labels to help their customers.”

The Real Bread Campaign 

Since its launch in November 2008, the Real Bread Campaign has encouraged all bakers to keep salt levels in their loaves down to the Food Standards Agency’s target of 1%, or below. The Campaign’s website and book Knead to Know, the guide to baking Real Bread for a local community, includes information on reducing salt levels. The Campaign has published a list of Real Breads that the bakers have said contain 1% salt or less on its news page. www.realbreadcampaign.org

Table 1 – Highest packaged products (white, wholemeal, brown) per 100g

BrandProduct NamePack Weight (g)Salt (g) per 100g
CranksSeeded Farmhouse6002.03
VogelsOriginal Mixed Grain8001.38
VogelsSunflower & Barley8001.25
VogelsSoya & Linseed8001.25
Asda Chosen By YouBakers Gold White Farmhouse4001.2
Asda OrganicsSoft White Loaf8001.2
CranksWholemeal8001.18
Marks & Spencer Eat WellMultigrain Bloomer Made With 30% Grains4001.15
Irwin'sIrish Batch Hi-Fibre4001.13
MorrisonsThick Sunflower & Pumpkin Loaf4001.1
MorrisonsThick Malted Grain8001.1
Tesco Baker’s SoftWholemeal Medium8001.1
Tesco Baker's SoftTasty White Thick8001.1
Weight WatchersThick Sliced Wholemeal4001.1
Weight WatchersThick Sliced White4001.1

 

Table 2 – Lowest packaged products (white, wholemeal, brown) per 100g

BrandProduct NamePack Weight (g)Salt (g) per 100g
Marks & Spencer Simply More Eat WellHealthiest White Bread

800

0.58

Tesco StayfreshWhite Sliced Bread Medium

800

0.6

Marks & Spencer Eat WellOaty Bloomer Made With 30% Oats

400

0.65

Marks & SpencerToasting White

400

0.73

Sainsbury'sMedium Wholemeal

800

0.74

BurgenSoya & Linseed

800

0.75

Sainsbury'sMedium White

800

0.75

The Food DoctorMulti-seed Oat Loaf

400

0.75

BurgenBuckwheat & Poppy Seed

800

0.78

Marks & Spencer Bakery Eat WellOrganic Multiseed Loaf

400

0.78

Hovis NimbleMalted Wholegrain

400

0.79

Asda Chosen By YouFresh For A Week Wholemeal Medium Sliced

800

0.8

MorrisonsThick Sunflower & Pumpkin

800

0.8

Sainsbury's OrganicSunflower & Pumpkin Seed

400

0.80

Tesco StayfreshWholemeal Sliced Bread Medium

800

0.8

 

Table 3 – Supermarket and branded packaged loaves swaps

SupermarketHigh Salt ProductSalt (g) / 100gLow Salt ProductSalt (g) / 100gDifference (g)
MorrisonsThick Malted grain

1.1

The Best Seeded Loaf

0.8

0.3

ASDAChosen By You Bakers Gold White Farmhouse

1.2

Chosen By You Square Cut White Sliced Loaf

0.8

0.4

Sainsbury'sTaste The Difference Soft Multiseed Wholemeal Farmhouse Batch

1.06

Medium Wholemeal

0.74

0.32

TescoBaker's Soft Tasty White Thick

1.1

Stayfresh White Sliced Bread Medium

0.6

0.5

The Co-operativeTruly Irresistible Wholemeal Seeded Batch Loaf

1.0

Wholemeal Bread Medium Sliced

0.9

0.1

WaitroseLove Life Heyford Sliced Bloomer Thick Sliced

1.05

Love Life Wheatgerm Bloomer Thick Sliced

0.90

0.15

M&SEat Well Multigrain Bloomer Made With 30% Grains

1.15

Eat Well Oaty Bloomer Made With 30% Oats

0.65

0.5

HovisHearty Oats

1.07

Best of Both Medium

0.88

0.19

WarburtonsSeeded Batch

1.08

Wholegrain Goodness with Sunflower Seeds

0.98

0.1

KingsmillLove to Toast White Toastie Thick

1.08

The Really Seeded One

0.80

0.28

References

Ref 1 – Survey Details

  • This survey looked at 294 loaves of bread from supermarkets and high street bakeries
  • This included all packaged loaves of bread, including branded products, as well as a sample of a standard white and standard wholemeal from each of the supermarket’s in store bakeries and from 5 high street bakeries
  • Product data for packaged bread was collected in store and from company websites. Bakery bread was purchased on May 17th 2011 and was then analysed using a Public Analyst (Kent Scientific Services), company websites were also originally used, see addendum
  • Products were categorised into one of the following 4 groups: White (white standard loaves), Wholemeal (standard wholemeal), Brown (brown, granary, wheatgerm, seeded, oats, 50/50), other (speciality breads, ethnic breads, rye, sourdough etc)
  • The survey was carried out in July 2011, with all figures in this release being checked on 29th August 2011

Ref 2 - A standard 34.5g packet of Walkers Ready Salted Crisps contains 0.5g of salt (8.5% of the daily maximum recommendation of salt)

Ref 3 – NDNS: In the 19-64 group the total contribution of bread is 18% (white – 11%, wholemeal – 3%, Brown- 3%, other – 1%). In children (4-10 and 11-18) bread contributes 17% of total salt intake and in the older population (65+) bread contributes 19% of total salt intake http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsStatistics/DH_128166

Current salt intake in the UK is 8.6g; the maximum daily recommendation is 6g http://tna.europarchive.org/20110116113217/http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/08sodiumreport.pdf

Ref 4 – Due to inconsistent slice weights available for bread we have used 100g data as a fair comparator in this release. This is equivalent to approximately 2 slices of thick sliced bread.  Salt per slice information, where provided by manufacturers, is detailed in the full data tables available from CASH

Ref 5 – Atlantic seawater has a salt concentration of 2.5g/100g

Ref 6 – The 2012 salt target for bread is 1g/100g. The salt targets were set as part of Department of Health’s responsibility Deal http://responsibilitydeal.dh.gov.uk/

Ref 7 - Recommended maximum salt intakes

AgeMaximum Salt Intake
0-6 months<1g / day
6-12 months1g / day
1-3 years2g / day
4-6 years3g / day
7-10 years5g / day
11 years and above6g / day

Ref 8 - Cribb VL, Warren J M , Emmett P M. Contribution of inappropriate complementary foods to the salt intake of 8-month-old infants. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.137

Ref 9 – He and MacGregor. How far should salt intakes be reduced? Hypertension. 2003:1093-1099

Ref 10 – Wyness LA, Butriss JL, Stanner SA. Reducing the population's sodium intake: The UK Food Standards Agency'sa salt reduction programme. Public Health Nutrition. 2011. Jun 23 1-8. [epub ahead of print]

Ref 11 – The Food Standards Agency collected bread data in 1998 and 2001. Full information can be viewed online. See Table 3 for product information. http://www.food.gov.uk/science/surveillance/fsis2001/19bread1

Ref 12 - Barnsley Council is working with the local bakeries to reduce salt http://www.bakeryinfo.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/8596/Barnsley_bakers_hit_salt_targets.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BWeekly

NB: The French-owned bakery chain PAUL UK Ltd (here referred to as 'PAUL') is in no way connected with Paul's Bakery (AKA Pauls and Paul's) the independent organic bakery in Melton Mowbray. CASH did not look at Paul's Bakery loaves and the baker has advised CASH that his loaves all meet the FSA's 1% salt target.