Surveys of the salt content in UK bread: progress made and further reductions possible.
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OBJECTIVES: To explore the salt reductions made over time in packaged bread sold in the UK, the biggest contributor of salt to the UK diet. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional surveys were carried out on the salt content of breads available in UK supermarkets in 2001(40 products), 2006 (138) and 2011 (203). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measure was the change in salt content per 100 g over time. Further measures included the proportion of products meeting salt targets and differences between brands and bread types. RESULTS: The average salt level of bread was 1.23±0.19 g/100 g in 2001, 1.05±0.16 in 2006 and 0.98±0.13 in 2011. This shows a reduction in salt/100 g of ≈20% between 2001 and 2011. In the 18 products which were surveyed in all 3 years, there was a significant reduction of 17% (p<0.05). Supermarket own brand bread was found to be lower in salt compared with branded bread (0.95 g/100 g compared with 1.04 g/100 g in 2011). The number of products meeting the 2012 targets increased from 28% in 2001 to 71% in 2011 (p<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: 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. 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 UK can continue to lead the world in salt reduction and save the maximum number of lives.