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Shocking and unnecessary levels of salt hidden in bread

Bread is one of the biggest sources of salt in our diets, and a recent survey by the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) has revealed the shocking truth about just how salty some breads really are.

The researchers examined over 2,000 white, wholemeal, mixed grain, and flatbreads from 32 countries. Over 500 Canadian products were collected for the survey by the lab of Mary L’Abbe at the University of Toronto.

The study revealed that 73 percent of Canadian breads exceeded the sodium targets set forth by Health Canada, and 21 percent exceeded the maximum recommended sodium levels. The bread that contained the most salt of all, Rosemary Focaccia from Canada, had 2.65 grams of salt per 100 grams, which is saltier than ocean water.

Canadian bread products were found to be the saltiest overall. While Canada has a voluntary sodium reduction target in place, there is currently no federal monitoring program to track the food industry’s progress in lowering sodium levels.

“Although recent Health Canada data has documented some progress in the reduction of sodium in prepackaged foods, Canadian bread products surveyed here demonstrate that more work is needed to meet recommended levels,* said L’Abbe.

Previous studies have shown that the salt content of bread could be lowered by 25 percent in just 6 weeks without consumers detecting any difference.

Approximately one third of respondents to the WASH survey felt that the World Health Organization could do more to lower salt content, but the majority of respondents felt that their country’s government should be responsible.

WASH Chairman Graham MacGregor is a professor of Cardiology at Queen Mary, University of London.

“Eating too much salt puts up our blood pressure, the major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide,” said MacGregor.

“Reducing salt intake around the world would save millions of lives each year and all countries should be working towards reducing salt intake by 30% by 2025. Our survey has shown that many bread manufacturers internationally are still adding huge and unnecessary amounts of salt to their products. Governments must act now and reinvigorate salt reduction work in the food industry.”

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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