ONE slice of a shop-bought bread contains nearly twice as much salt as a portion of McDonald's fries, experts warn.
Just two slices of Hovis white bread contains up to a fifth of the daily maximum recommended intake, research by Action on Salt found.
That is the same as a McDonald’s burger, with three quarters of all supermarket loaves having as much as a packet of ready salted crisps in just one slice.
The non-profit called on the Government to set salt reduction targets.
Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Salt, said: “It’s a disgrace that food companies continue to fill our bread with so much unnecessary salt.
“For too long the food industry has been in charge of public health, at our expense.
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“It’s time for the Government to stop letting people die needlessly."
Salt is one of the largest contributors to high blood pressure, which is suffered by around one in three Brits.
The condition increases the risk of deadly heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Bread is the largest contributor of salt in Brits’ diets, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, with most adults buying 60 loaves a year.
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The food industry has set voluntary salt reduction targets since 2006, with the current target for 2024 set at a maximum of 1.01g of salt per 100g of bread.
The Action on Salt research investigated salt levels in 242 pre-sliced breads available on the high street to see whether they are meeting this goal and how they vary.
Some 11 per cent of the loaves exceeded the target.
The saltiest bread was Hovis Bakers Since 1886 White Half Cob, containing 1.48g per 100g.
It was followed by Crosta & Mollica Pane Pugliese Toasting Bread (1.3g per 100g), The Polish Bakery Baltonowski Premium Bread – Chleb Baltonowski (1.3g) and Hovis Granary (1.28g).
For comparison, the Hovis cob was six times the amount in the least salty — Waitrose Rye and Wheat Dark Sourdough Bread, which only contained 0.51g per 100g.
One slice of the Hovis option contains around 0.83g of salt, nearly double as much as a small portion of McDonald’s Fries (0.44g).
A McDonald's Hamburger contains 1.2g of salt, while Walkers Ready Salted has 0.46g per pack.
Action on Salt said the stark variety in salt levels suggest the targets could be set lower.
Sheena Bhageerutty, assistant nutritionist at Action on Salt says: “Bread is the single biggest contributor of salt to our diets.
“Even the smallest of reductions in salt would go a long way for our health.
“This is why we urgently need companies to double down their efforts to reduce salt further and make salt reduction a priority.”
A Hovis spokesperson said: "Over the last 20 years, Hovis has been actively reducing the levels of salt in its products, with the data provided by Action for Salt confirming this notable reduction over time.
"The vast majority of our range is fully compliant with current salt targets.
‘The three Hovis products that Action for Salt have highlighted as exceeding the voluntary salt targets are Cobs, which are part of our premium Hovis 1886 artisanal inspired range, developed to deliver exceptional taste and variety for those special occasions that they are bought for.
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"Hovis 1886 Cobs currently only represent approximately 1 per cent of all Hovis loaves sold, but along with our ever popular core Hovis range help to offer an exciting, tasty and relevant range to a wide variety of shoppers with differing needs and budgets.
‘All our product recipes are continually reviewed in light of evolving guidelines and will continue to be carefully crafted to the highest standards, as they have been for almost 140 years, being enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet .”
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