One slice of bread can have more salt than bag of crisps
There can be more salt in a single slice of bread than in a packet of crisps.
A survey by the Irish Independent has found that processed bread still packs a salty punch despite efforts to make it healthier.
We found that a single slice contains as much as 0.7g of salt which is higher than some packets of salt and vinegar crisps containing 0.5g.
But while health-conscious parents avoid putting crisps in their children's lunchbox – and many schools ban them – a child's sandwich could contain as much as 1.4g of salt even before you add any filling.
The finding comes after a study last week showed children are eating an unhealthy amount of salt and a third of it comes from bread and cereal.
The UK study published in the journal 'Hypertension' found children ranging from five years old to teenagers consumed 25pc more salt each day than the recommended limits for their age groups.
People are recommended to cut their salt intake because of the strong links between excessive consumption and high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
We found that Brennans Batch white loaf had the most salt at 0.74g per slice and was also high in calories and low in fibre. Most of the breads we surveyed contained between 0.4g and 0.6g of salt per slice, with several brown breads at the upper end of this scale, although they had the benefit of being high in fibre.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said that salt levels in bread had been cut by between 18 and 30pc in the last 10 years and it would monitor continuing industry efforts to reduce this.
FSAI director of food science Dr Wayne Anderson said processed bread did require the addition of some salt and parents needed to be aware this was the case, and reduce intake if necessary.
"You could substitute other carbs such as pasta a few times a week, or choose smaller portion sizes or thin slices rather than the doorstep variety," he said.
Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) director Paul Kelly said the food industry had worked with the FSAI to reduce salt levels in foodstuffs over the last decade, resulting in a 1.1g reduction in average daily adult intake.
"It has seen a 18-20pc reduction in the salt content of bread since the start of the salt reduction programme and Ireland now has one of the lowest salt levels in bread in the world," he said.
"Salt is a key ingredient in the baking of all bread, for dough formation and fermentation, adding flavour and it has a role to play in shelf life."
The food industry would collaborate with government to monitor the impact of reformulation on an ongoing basis over the next five years, he said.
Nutritionist Aveen Bannon advised parents to limit children's bread intake to two slices a day, choosing wholemeal and wholegrain breads that had the benefit of being high in fibre.
"A lot of children have toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and then more toast for a snack when they get in, and parents don't realise just how much salt they're eating in this," she said.
The recommended daily salt limit for children ranges from 1g to 6g depending on age.
Brennans said its batch loaf weighs 67g per slice which was twice the size of a regular slice of bread, but its salt content per 100g was the same as a family pan and up to 30pc lower than other batch loaves.
The salt level per 100g was also significantly lower than 100g of crisps.
The healthiest lunchtime option we found was Ryvita Dark Rye crispbreads as these contained just 0.07g of salt each – so even four of them would have less salt than a slice of bread – while they are also very high in fibre.