The UK government has set the limits of salt in packaged foods. But research revealed that some slices of bread had salt content higher than that in a bag of salted crisps.
Bread and salt limits: UK government
The UK government has started regulations on the amount of salt, sugar and fats added to processed and packaged foods. The manufacturers have to abide by these rules. And the law states that the maximum salt limit in bread slices should be below 1.01 g per 100 g.
But a new study shows that many bread slices still are saltier. 242 packaged pre-sliced loaves of breads were analyzed for their salt content. These included sourdough, rye, white, wholemeal, multigrain and seeded breads from supermarkets (89 in number) and retailers (153 in number).
Majority had levels below the limit of 1.01 g. But several had levels above this limit set by the Department of Health and Social Care. The Hovis White Sourdough was the worst at 1.48 g per 100 g and the best was Waitrose Rye and Wheat Dark Sourdough bread at 0.51 g.
Call for tighter clampdown
Health experts and activists have called for an urgent and tighter clampdown on the sales of such high salt containing breads. Salt is a high risk factor for high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. Even small reductions would go a long way to help improve health and prevent premature deaths. Graham McGregor, cardiologist from Queen Mary Hospital, London says:
“Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to lower blood pressure and reduce the number of people dying and suffering from strokes and heart disease.”
He feels that it is a disgraceful act on the part of the companies to disobey law and put large amounts of salt in the foods and breads. Sonia Pombo, head of campaign of Action on Salt feels that government needs to implement the new rule properly.
Sonia adds that short term profits adversely affects public health and need to stop. Companies need to show the will to change. She feels that those who do not comply should be made to pay financial penalties. Though some reduction in salt in bread is in place, it is not enough.
Baking industry response
The federation of bakers feel that the salt in breads in the UK is already low. The national salt regulations are in force in only four EU countries to date. Andrew Payne from the Federation feels that there has been a marked reduction in the salt content of breads in the UK in the past one decade or so. He reveals that now bread contributes only 10% of the daily salt for an individual.
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Andrew adds that the industry is trying to further reduce the salt in bakery products. But he reveals that salt is important in these baked products to improve texture, flavor and shelf life. It is a challenge to further minimize or completely do away with salt since it has a technological role in bread making. Its addition is an important step in the process and not adding salt would lessen it’s texture quality, keeping life and flavor.