LONDON — Bakers in the United Kingdom have made steady progress in reducing the amount of salt in bread over the past decade, and further cuts are possible, according to a new study from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London.
Researchers found the average salt content in supermarket bread was 20% lower in 2011 than it was in 2001. The salt levels in packaged bread were about 0.98 grams per 100-gram serving in 2011, which compared with 1.23 grams per 100 grams in 2001, the study showed.
Cross-sectional surveys were carried out on the salt content of bread available in U.K. supermarkets in 2001 (40 products), 2006 (138 products) and 2011 (203 products).
The survey noted supermarket private label bread is doing better to cut the salt than branded bread, with private label having 0.95 grams of salt per 100-gram serving, compared with 1.04 grams per 100-gram serving in branded bread.
Despite the perception that whole grain or brown bread varieties are healthier than white bread, the researchers indicated little difference between the amount of salt in the many types of bread.
The U.K.’s Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal established a 2012 bread target of less than or equal to 1 gram of salt per 100-gram serving of bread. According to the study, 28% of the products met the target in 2001, 52% in 2006 and 71% in 2011.
“This study shows that the salt content of bread has been progressively reduced over time, contributing to the evidence base that a target-based approach to salt reduction can lead to reductions being made,” the researchers said. “A wide variation in salt levels was found with many products already meeting the 2012 targets, indicating that further reductions can be made. This requires further progressive lower targets to be set, so that the U.K. can continue to lead the world in salt reduction and save the maximum number of lives.”