Why does bread contain salt?

Salt is an essential ingredient in bread. It contributes to the taste and it controls fermentation, a key part of the bread making process.

Why does the body need salt?

It is the sodium (ions) present in salt that the body requires in order to perform a variety of essential functions. Salt helps maintain the fluid in our blood cells and is used to transmit information in our nerves and muscles. It is also used in the uptake of certain nutrients from our small intestines. The body cannot make salt and so we are reliant on food to ensure that we get the required intake.

Medical evidence shows that too much salt (sodium) in the diet can contribute to high blood pressure and has been linked to increased risk of other diseases.

What is the difference between sodium and salt?

Salt is also known as sodium chloride. It’s the sodium in salt that can be bad for your health. Sodium is usually listed in the nutrition information on food labels. Salt is not legally required to be listed but many companies provide this information in addition to the sodium level. The salt figure is obtained by multiplying the sodium value by 2.5 so if a food contains 1.2g sodium then it contains 1.2 x 2.5 = 3g salt.

How will I know how much salt is in the bread that I buy?

The bread that FOB members produce is wrapped and the sodium and salt content are clearly labelled on the pack.

Salt in Bread

The UK government has set a target of reducing the average salt consumption for adults to 6g per day. It also set for the first time levels for children.

Around 75% of salt comes from processed food. The rest is added by consumers at home at the table or during cooking, or eaten as part of food eaten out of the home. Of the total about 17% of salt in the diet comes from bread as it is a staple food consumed by most people in the country.

FoB has for many years taken a positive and proactive approach to salt reduction and has worked closely with government – DHSC and before that FSA – on its salt reduction campaigns under the Responsibility Deal which set a 2012 target of 0.40g per 100g of bread (1g salt) and a further 10% reduction set for 2017.

Our members have been very successful in reducing the amount of salt in bread, over the past 10 years we have achieved up to 30% reduction.  Our latest industry data has shown a sales weighted average level of 0.39g of sodium (0.98g salt) per 100g of bread.  Further reductions are very challenging for the bread industry as salt has a significant technological role in bread-making.  However, bakers are committed to working with Government to continue to investigate ways of reducing salt where it is technically feasible to do so.

It is worth noting that the UK has one of the lowest levels of salt in bread in the world.  In Europe only 4 member states out of 19 have to date implemented national salt legislation with sodium levels ranging from 1.1 – 2g salt per 100g of bread (source: AIBI).