Survey Finds Huge and Unnecessary Salt Levels in Store-bought Bread

Major findings of the survey:

  • Canadian bread product saltiest in survey of global bread products
  • Some breads surveyed had as much sodium (salt) as seawater
  • More than a third of breads worldwide have more salt than UK maximum salt reduction target for bread (1.5 g of salt or 600 mg of sodium /100 g)
  • 73% of Canadian breads exceeded Health Canada’s 2016 targets for sodium in bread products and 21% were above recommended maximum levels.

Bread features heavily in many diets worldwide, and is one of the biggest sources of salt in diets. A new survey by World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), based at Queen Mary University of London, has revealed the shocking levels of salt present in this essential staple. WASH surveyed over 2,000 white, wholemeal, mixed grain and flat breads from 32 countries and regions, including over 500 products from Canada collected by Professor Mary L’Abbe’s lab at the University of Toronto.

Researchers found that the saltiest bread in the survey – Rosemary Foccacia by ACE Bakery, available in Canada – had a shocking 2.65 g of salt (1060 mg sodium) per 100 g, which is saltier than seawater.

In Canadians more than 1 year of age, bread contributes the most sodium to dietary intakes (14%), primarily because it is consumed in large quantities. While voluntary sodium reduction benchmark targets exist in Canada, there is currently no federal or provincial sodium-monitoring program to track the food industry’s progress, although aggregate data was published by Health Canada earlier this year.

Previous research by Professor L’Abbe’s lab has examined industry’s progress between 2010 and 2013 and found only a 6.6% reduction in bread products. Reducing salt in bread is an easy and effective way of lowering salt intake across the whole population – research has shown that the salt content of bread could be lowered by 25% over 6 weeks and consumers would not notice the difference.

44% of white breads included in the WASH survey had more salt than the UK’s maximum salt target. The Republic of Macedonia produced white breads with the highest salt content, averaging 1.42 g/100 g, compared to China which had the lowest average salt content of 0.65g/100g. Canadian breads in this category had an average salt content of 1.23g/100g, ranging from 0.43g/100g to 2.65 g/100 g.

Despite the UK’s progress with salt reduction to date, the average salt content of wholemeal breads from Qatar, China, Costa Rica and South Africa (0.78 g/100 g – 0.92 g/100 g) were lower than the average salt content of wholemeal breads in the UK (0.93 g/100 g). This suggests that mandatory salt reduction targets, such as those put in place in South Africa, may be more effective than voluntary targets.

Although mixed grain breads had the lowest salt content of the bread categories, there was still a huge variation within this category. The highest salt bread available in Bulgaria had a salt content of 2.50 g/100 g, compared to the lowest salt bread available in Costa Rica with a salt content of 0.09 g/100 g, a massive 27-fold difference in salt content. In Canada the highest salt bread in this category had a salt content of 1.69 g/100 g and the lowest 0.46 g/100 g.

A recent survey by WASH found that a third of respondents felt that the WHO could do more to encourage countries to lower salt intakes. However, the majority of respondents felt that their country’s government should take primary responsibility.

Professor Mary L’Abbe at the University of Toronto says: “Although recent Health Canada data has documented some progress in the reduction of sodium in prepackaged foods, Canadian bread products surveyed here demonstrate that more work is needed to meet recommended levels”

Mhairi Brown, Nutritionist at WASH, says: “This survey clearly demonstrates the progress still to be made to lower salt intake by 30% by 2025, in line with WHO recommendations. Bread is an essential staple food in many countries but is still a key source of salt in our diets due to the frequency with which we eat bread. Globally we must do more to reduce salt intake, and a simple way to do this is to lower salt in our staple foods.”

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiology at Queen Mary, University of London, and WASH Chairman says: “Eating too much salt puts up our blood pressure, the major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Reducing salt intake around the world would save millions of lives each year and all countries should be working towards reducing salt intake by 30% by 2025. Our survey has shown that many bread manufacturers internationally are still adding huge and unnecessary amounts of salt to their products. Governments must act now and reinvigorate salt reduction work in the food industry.”

Source: EurekAlert!


Bread – The Dish of the Year

Kate Krader wrote . . . . . .

At the fine dining temple L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas, where the 16-course tasting menu goes for $425, an unlikely product is coveted by high rollers: bread. “All the billionaires who come to play request bread for their private jets on the way home,” says Robuchon, who has amassed 31 Michelin stars over his career for dishes that go far beyond the bakery.

In the fall, Robuchon brought those loaves to New York, when he and his head baker of 20 years, Tetsuya Yamaguchi, opened a L’Atelier in Chelsea. Robuchon thinks this might be the best bread in his empire. “The water in New York City is the best,” the chef notes. Among the selections in the basket on tables are mini-baguettes, cheese bread, and branch-shaped epi loaf. Yamaguchi’s breads are exquisite, airy and sturdy with an unusually intense flavor of fresh wheat.

It’s a momentous time for bread in America. That’s especially satisfying, given the years it spent as a bad word in our diet vocabulary: High carb! High gluten! Unhealthy! Sure, plenty of foods are reaching new heights these days: From coffee to chocolate and butter, the country’s level of culinary connoisseurship continues to rise, as does the amount of money people are willing to pay for them. Yet it’s bread that’s standing out right now. Compare it to the best fried chicken, the best bowl of noodles you’ve had recently. Great bread is truly everywhere.

For one thing, more chefs have stopped outsourcing bread. One of the big restaurant headlines this year was the reopening of Union Square Café. Along with a new address, the Union Square Hospitality team added a café, Daily Provisions, where they sell the loaves called sprezzatura that they bake in a 600-foot space. The bread is also served at Union Square, where, for the first time, customers routinely ask for seconds. Their bread has a toasty brown, tantalizingly moist center, with a contrastingly crisp crust; it’s on my shortlist of best breads in New York.

“Freshly milled flour has been on the rise for the last five years. Put raw flour on your tongue and taste it alongside commercial flour and note the difference,” says USC chef Carmen Quagliata. Now the chef is figuring out how to make enough bread to sell to restaurants who have asked him to supply it.

There’s also been an expansion of notable bakeries across the country. San Francisco-based Tartine announced it’s launching a 38,500-square-foot bakery/food hall in Los Angeles that will open in the coming spring; the bakery alone has more than 8,000 square feet and includes a grain mill to meet expected demand. Sullivan Street Bakery, which introduced artisanal bread to New York in 1994, discerned a need for its product in Miami and opened a wholesale operation there earlier this year; a retail component is coming and the company plans to expand to other cities.

Also big in 2017, literally, was the five-volume, 2,642 page Modernist Bread (Cooking Lab, October 2017) compendium by Microsoft tech guru Nathan Myhrvold and chef Francisco Migoya. Myhrvold wanted to show just how deep you could go on one of the world’s most basic foods. “We know more about grains now, we have better technology (equipment) to make great bread than ever before, and more and more people are interested in not just eating good bread but how to make it,” he says. One of Myhrvold’s favorite recipes is that for chocolate cherry sourdough, an unconventional example of what to do with flavor and the ubiquitous tangy loaf.

For those less technical in their bread obsessions, food blogger Alexandra Stafford also published her book Bread Toast Crumbs (Clarkson Potter, April . 2017), based on a wildly popular and simple recipe for peasant bread she posted to her blog Alexandra’s Kitchen a few years ago. The book takes that easy, anyone-can-do-it loaf and adds layers of recipes on top of it, for sandwiches, toasts, and other creative, bread-based confections.

One quarter that takes bread especially seriously is Brooklyn, N.Y. It’s the home of She Wolf Bakery, a place where $20 loaves fly off the shelves. At Four Horsemen, a funky Williamsburg spot, chef Nick Curtola has gained acclaim for the crusty mini-loaves he serves torn into irregular pieces. “Bread baked in-house shows how serious a restaurant you are,” Curtola notes. He also sees it as the embodiment of communal dining. “A loaf of warm bread encourages sharing, which is what everyone wants in a restaurant.”

Yet, in my opinion, the best bread in New York is hiding in a beer bar in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint. From a tiny kitchen in the back of Tørst, Max Blachman-Gentile turns out phenomenal loaves, from a dark Russian rye to pumpkin porridge made with kabocha squash. My favorite is the Greenpoint Sour, a loaf true to its name, with an exceptionally tangy, chewy center marked by good-sized air pockets and a flavorful, charred crust. It’s invariably part of a $9 bread plate on a menu that also includes beer-friendly hot dogs and burgers. Blachman-Gentile credits the general switch from white flour to grains (sourcing his from small, Northeast farms) and from commercial, supermarket yeast to natural leavening from wild yeast mixed with flour and water.

I recommend a bread crawl and urge that you make your last stop here; the Greenpoint Sour is excellent with Evil Twin’s Limits of My Language Are the Limits of My World IPA.

Source: Bloomberg

Cute Bread Loaf with Pink Heart in the Centre

It is a Danish bread made to celebrate your birthday. When you cut it, a pink heart appears in the cross section. This is perfect for the present!

The bread is available for a limited time at 1404 yen each (tax included).

Rascal Character Bread

The Character

3, 2, 1 … Bake Off! The Mission To Make Bread In Space

Crumbs may seem harmless here on Earth, but they can be a hazard in microgravity — they could get in an astronaut’s eye, or get inhaled, causing someone to choke. Crumbs could even float into an electrical panel, burn up or cause a fire.

That’s part of the reason why it was a very big deal in 1965 when John Young pulled a corned beef sandwich out of his pocket as he was orbiting the earth with Gus Grissom.

“Where did that come from?” Grissom asked Young.

“I brought it with me,” Young said.

Young took a bite and then microgravity took over, spreading bread crumbs throughout the spacecraft.

Today, instead of bread, astronauts usually eat tortillas: They don’t crumble in the same way and they’re easy to hold with one hand as the astronaut floats about.

But for many Germans, tortillas just don’t cut it. So when a man named Sebastian Marcu heard that German Astronaut Alexander Gerst is returning to the International Space Station in 2018, that got him thinking: “Shouldn’t we do something to enable him to have fresh bread in space?”

Bread is a really big deal in Germany — there are thousands of variations of different kinds of bread there. To Marcu, a German astronaut in space without fresh bread seemed like a preventable problem.

Marcu was working in the space sector, and he and his friend, an engineer, started a company called Bake in Space in March 2017.

They’re partnered with the German Aerospace Center, which is basically Germany’s NASA. Their goal is to make an oven that can successfully bake dough on the International Space Station by 2018.

But there are a lot of obstacles that make baking in space difficult.

First, the oven needs to function on about a tenth of the power an oven here on earth does.

And it’s pretty much impossible to preheat the oven, because if it gets hot and then the door is opened, a giant hot air bubble could leave the oven and float into the spacecraft.

“It could just sit there in mid air and the astronauts could basically burn himself if he flies through it,” Marcu says.

Which is clearly not ideal.

Then there’s the problem of the dough — at low heat, bread has to bake for a longer period of time, but the longer it bakes, the drier it gets. And crumbling must be avoided at all costs because of the havoc bread wreaks in space.

Despite all the technical challenges, Marcu predicts that his company will be able to have Alexander Gerst bake the first loaf of sourdough in space next year.

“It’s not just about making one German astronaut happy with fresh bread,” Marcu explains. “There’s really a deeper meaning to bread in space.”

He says bread is ubiquitous. It’s made its way onto our dinner tables, into our religion, our slang. Breadwinner and dough stand for money, for well being, for quality of life. We break bread with strangers as a gesture of good faith.

“Well, it would definitely be a big symbol of peace to break bread with an alien life form I think,” he says.

But most importantly to Marcu, freshly baked bread in space will offer astronauts a little slice of home.

Source: npr