20 March 2019
Many of the bread samples sold locally were found to be high in sodium, fat and trans fat, which could pose serious health risks. Photo: HKEJ
Many of the bread samples sold locally were found to be high in sodium, fat and trans fat, which could pose serious health risks. Photo: HKEJ

Tests reveal excessive levels of sodium, fat in bread samples

The Consumer Council on Thursday urged consumers to be discerning when choosing bread products after tests found high levels of sodium, fat or trans fat in samples that could pose health risks, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

In February and March, the consumer watchdog and the Centre for Food Safety conducted joint tests on 100 samples of 10 commonly available types of bread in the market, including white bread, wholemeal bread, croissant, wheat bread with raisin, sweet plain bun, sesame bun, pineapple bun, cocktail bun, tuna bun and sausage roll.

For each type of bread, 10 samples were sourced from different outlets, including bakeries, cafés and supermarkets, to test their sodium, total fat and trans fat content.

Releasing the results on Thursday, the council said sesame bun, sausage roll and white bread were found to contain more sodium than the other types of bread.

On average, the sesame bun samples contained 480 milligrams of sodium per 100g, while the other two types of bread had 420mg.

One sausage roll sample and one sesame bun sample had 640mg and 630mg of sodium per 100g respectively, making them both “high sodium” food, which is defined in Hong Kong as one measuring more than 600mg.

According to the World Health Organization, an adult’s recommended daily sodium intake should not exceed 2,000mg as a high-sodium diet could lead to high blood pressure.

Meanwhile, tests revealed that all 10 croissants and three cocktail buns were found to contain more than 20g of total fat per 100g, meeting the definition of “high fat” food.

The total fat content of all the bread samples was higher than the criterion for “low fat”, which is no more than 3g per 100g.

As for trans fat, or unsaturated fat which can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by raising the concentration of bad cholesterol and lowering the level of good cholesterol, the test results showed the amount found in croissants was higher than in other samples, averaging 0.7g of trans fat per 100g, or more than 30 percent of the daily intake recommended by the WTO.

The WHO and Hong Kong have each set targets to prohibit the use of industrially produced trans fat by 2023 and 2025, respectively.

The council advised consumers to maintain a balanced diet with wide food variety, reduce intake of bread containing high sodium, total fat and trans fat, and pay heed to nutritional composition of bread when choosing which to buy.

When buying prepackaged bread, consumers are advised to read carefully the nutrition label to check on the levels of sodium, total fat and trans fat, the watchdog added.

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