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Action on Salt analysed 242 sliced loaves available from the supermarkets

Action on Salt has called on Britain’s bakeries to reduce the “unnecessary amounts” of salt in their wrapped bread.

It comes after research by the health campaign organisation found 75% of sliced loaves sold in UK supermarkets contained “as much salt or more per slice than a packet of ready salted crisps”.

Having analysed 242 loaves, AoS named Hovis as the “saltiest culprit”. The brand’s Bakers Since 1886 White contained 1.48g salt per 100g, found the campaign group, which also singled out Hovis Soft White Extra Thick for containing “as much salt as a McDonald’s hamburger” per two slices.

M&S Thick White Super Soft, with 1.03g of salt per 100g, was among other loaves criticised.

“Bread is the single biggest contributor of salt to our diets,” said Sheena Bhageerutty, AoS assistant nutritionist. “Even the smallest of reductions in salt would go a long way for our health.”

A Hovis spokeswoman insisted salt was “an integral part of the bread-making process” and “an essential part of our diet when consumed in moderation”.

A spokeswoman for M&S said the retailer was “actively reducing salt” as part of “our reformulation programme to continually improve the nutritional profile of all our food”.

Several own label loaves were highlighted by AoS for containing low levels of salt.

Waitrose Rye & Wheat Dark Sourdough was the least salty at 0.51g per 100g, while Aldi Village Bakery The Classic Malted Bloomer had just 0.53g of salt per 100g, and Asda’s Extra Special Farmhouse Wholemeal & Rye Bread 800g contained 0.59g salt per 100g.

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: “90% of our own brand lines already meet the government’s 2024 maximum salt target. We’re proud of our progress and remain committed to making sure all applicable products meet the guidance, without compromising on taste or quality.”

An Asda spokeswoman said the retailer was “committed to making healthy choices easy for customers and we’ve been working for many years to reformulate Asda products to reduce salt, sugar and calories, as well as improving the overall nutrition profile of products”.

“We are pleased to say we’ve already hit the 2024 salt targets across bread and rolls, as well as increasing the number of high-fibre ‘Live Better’ products in the range.

“We are committed to continuing our work on reformulation across the categories that are most important to Asda customers’ diets,” she added.

The Grocer has approached Aldi for comment. 

It comes after research published by Imperial College London in February linked consumption of ultra-processed foods – including packaged breads – with elevated risk of developing cancers.