Bakers hit back over salty bread claims

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bread

Cash claims salt levels in bread have come down, but more needs to be done
Cash claims salt levels in bread have come down, but more needs to be done
The Federation of Bakers (FoB) has criticised continued sniping from consumer group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) about salt levels in packaged bread, claiming its data is outdated.

Research conducted by CASH and published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Open online suggested wide variation in packaged bread salt levels, with many products now below the Department of Health 2012 targets.

Branded breads came under particularly heavy fire, with more than half below the 2012 benchmark levels, compared to just over 10% of supermarket own-label items, according to CASH.

“However, the information in the BMJ report is already out of date as 2012 targets have now been met across all branded bread produced by Federation of Bakers members,”​ said the FoB in a statement countering CASH’s latest volley against the bakery industry.

“100g of branded sliced bread now contains just 0.4g of sodium (1g of salt) with the contribution of salt in bread to the diet estimated to be just 12%,”​ the FoB continued. “Since 2004 there has been a 27% reduction of salt in branded bread.”

It was responding to CASH estimates that reducing bread’s average salt content to 0.9g/100g (a figure met by 27% of products in 2011), would mean 1,200 fewer heart attacks and strokes annually.

2,400 fewer heart attacks

Based on 2011 information, reducing daily salt content to 0.8g/100g (a figure 11% of products met then) would slash individual intake by 0.22g, achieving 2,400 fewer heart attacks and strokes annually, said CASH.

“Bread is the single biggest contributor of salt to the UK diet and it is vital that we set challenging targets for the bread industry in order to save the maximum number of lives,”​ said CASH chairman Graham MacGregor.

MacGregor is also professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary College, University of London.

CASH did recognise in its research, which was based on surveys of breads in UK supermarkets conducted between 2001 and 2011, that salt levels in these breads had fallen by 20%.

Key figures in the bakery industry acknowledged at the FoB's annual conference​ last month that more needed to be done to improve the image of sliced bread and defend it against 'bread bashing' in the media.

At the World Health Assembly in May 2013 it was unanimously agreed that all countries should reduce their daily salt intake by 30% towards a target of 5g per day by 2025.

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