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Health targets are worth their salt in cutting additive.

THE average salt content in packaged bread has fallen by 20% in the past decade, according to new research.

Findings published in the BMJ Open online journal show salt levels in packaged bread in supermarkets across the UK fell around 20% from 1.23g per 100g in 2001, to 1.05g per 100g in 2006 and then 0.98g per 100g in 2011.

Researchers examined 40 products in 2001, 138 in 2006 and then 203 in 2011 for the study by the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London.

Overall, the number of products meeting the Department of Health's 2012 target - of less than or equal to 1g of salt per 100g - rose from under a third (28%) in 2001 to almost three-quarters (71%) in 2011.

But wide variations in salt content persist in similar products, and between supermarket own-label and branded products, the results showed.

In 2001, 38% of supermarket own-label loaves met the 2012 target compared with just 17% of branded products. By 2011, the equivalent figures were 89% and 42% respectively, the study found.

Little difference in salt content was found between white, wholemeal, and brown loaves despite the common perception that wholemeal and brown bread are healthier alternatives to white bread, the authors said.

The authors noted: "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."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 18, 2013
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