Bread and Salt

October 05, 2021

By now, we all know that a balanced diet is essential for health. Everything in moderation and a little of what you fancy! We also know that it’s important to watch how much salt we eat. It is now recommended that we limit our salt intake level to about 5-6 g daily. It is estimated that about 15-20% of total dietary sodium intake is from discretionary sources (salt added in cooking and at table), 15% from naturally occurring sodium in food and about 65-70% from manufactured foods, including bread.

Why is there salt in bread? Well, in other blogs on our site you might have read that salt is multi-functional in the production of bread. It has a strengthening effect on the gluten (protein) formation, making the dough more stable, less sticky, and easier to handle. It also controls the amount of gas that the yeast produces, ensuring that bread loaves have a consistent shape and height and it contributes to the overall flavour of the bread. Salt is a critical ingredient in bread and as a result, reducing salt levels posed several challenges for our bakers – they wanted to reduce salt levels but at the same time maintaining the product quality, taste and consistency that consumers expect! As well as extensive in-house research trials and product development, the Irish Bread Bakers Association (IBBA) engaged with external experts including third level institutions involved in research into product reformulation in order to achieve their salt reduction targets.

IBBA is committed to reducing the amount of salt in bread and put together a programme called Managing Salt Reduction in Bread to help small/medium sized bakeries reduce salt in their products. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has commended IBBA members for their work in this regard.

As far back as 2004, the IBBA targeted a minimum reduction of salt in all its members’ products. FSAI surveys on bread indicate that the level of salt in IBBA bread products has steadily decreased over time. Between 2003 and 2011, salt in bread was reduced by over 18%. These reductions were already significantly ahead of the European target of 16% by the end of 2012. In 2016, the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) reported that white bread only provided 6% of daily total sodium intake in adults and only 1% in pre-school children.

Having read all of this you might still be wondering how much salt is there in a slice of white bread? It’s easy to find out – just take a look at the wrapper and read the Nutritional Information on the label (check out our Blogs on Food Labels and Nutritional Labelling). If we adhere to a guide daily intake of 5g of salt per day as per the WHO, then your slice of white bread is way below that. Each slice provides only 10% of your daily limit, that’s 0.4g per slice.

For more information, check out these resources: