Reporter: Helen Wellings

Fifty per cents of the breads we eat every day contain up to 16 additives - preservatives, softeners, colours, artificial flavours, emulsifiers - many potentially hazardous. They also contain high levels of sugar, fats ... and mounds of salt - recipes for health disasters.

So what's healthiest - white or brown ... or wraps? Which loaves are loaded with preservatives that can cause very nasty side-effects.

"We've got no preservatives, reduced salt." Said Brumby's Managing Director Deane Priest

Which are the highest ... and lowest in salt or sodium, fibre, fat and sugar?

The George Institute for Global Health has surveyed 140 different breads to measure their sodium levels - with alarming results.

"A lot of breads have equal if not more amounts of salt than some of our common takeaway and processed foods." Said Melanie McGrice

Dietitian Melanie McGrice says as we eat bread daily - 4 to 6 slices on average, up to 3000mg of sodium, when our daily limit is 2000mg.

"A high salt diet can contribute to high blood pressure and we know that having high blood pressure can also then increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke." Said Dietician Melanie McGrice

Manufacturers have been given a voluntary salt reduction target of 400mg of sodium per 100gm of bread by the end of next year. Already some manufacturers have cut sodium levels.. but others have failed badly

"There are still some breads out there that have 800 or 900 mg of sodium per 100 gm of bread so that is DOUBLE the amount of sodium that they should actually be having." Said Melanie McGrice

Worst, Mission Wraps Zesty with 920mg of sodium per 100gm. FAT - most breads have around 2 to 3gm total fat and less than 1 gm of saturated fat. But Mission Wrap has 7.8gm of fat, 3.7gm saturated. And high sugar.. 6.2gm, three times higher than the average 2 gm.

17 of 20 breads with the highest salt are Goodman Fielder's including Helga's Continental loaves

Baker's Delight WHITE BLOCK, also high at 562 mg. Goodman Fielder said it will reduce salt in 40 per cent of its biggest-selling brands by the end of March to target levels.

Lowest sodium, Tip Top fruit loaf and even Woolworths and Coles $1 generics are low.

Emulsifiers and softeners are not likely to cause the kinds of problems that can be caused by preservatives, colours and synthetic anti-oxidants


Sue Dengate of the Food Intolerance Network says preservatives, propionic acid 282 and sorbates 200 and 202, retard mould growth so the bread keeps longer ... but the side effects can be horrendous.

These breads have preservatives.

Mission Wrap Spinach sounds healthy, but its green colour comes from yellow and blue artificial food colours... These breads DON'T have any preservatives or colours.

"Brumby's Pure Bake is just like grandma used to bake it doesn't have preservatives in it." Said Deane Priest

In a survey sponsored by Brumby's Bakeries, 69 of 170 breads contain 3 to 16 additives, a quick-fix enabling bread to be mixed and baked 2 hours faster. But Brumby's Managing Director, Dean Priest, says its entire Pure Bake range has reduced salt, no artificial colourings and flavours.

Finally.. choose breads with fibre.

Brown bread is a better choice than white bread because brown bread is less refined and so has more iron in it and more fibre." Said Melanie