Sandwiches sold on Britain’s high streets may contain as much sugar as one and a half Krispy Kreme donuts, according to an analysis.
Some are even saltier than nine packets of salt and vinegar crisps.
MailOnline’s extensive audit comes as Pret came under fire last week for charging £7.15 for its ‘fancy’ cheese and pickle baguette at a branch in a London Underground station.
The takeaway deal costs £5.95 at central transport stations, but to eat it in store, the chain applies a £1.20 VAT charge on the sandwich.
Our analysis looked at more than 100 sandwiches and baguettes sold at chains such as Pret, Costa and Caffe Nero, as well as stores such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
The full results are published in a fascinating table that allows you to search for your favorite lunchtime option.
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When it comes to sugar, Sainsbury’s topped the list with its brie, bacon and chilli chutney sandwich (19.7g).
The supermarket, which has more than 1,400 stores in Britain, appeared in the top ten five times with its range of sandwiches.
Pret’s cheddar and pickle baguette, the same one that saw the company criticized last week, was also one of the worst, with 18.6g of sugar.
Meanwhile, Tesco’s shredded beef and red Leicester sandwich contained 11.3g of sugar, while the barbecue chicken, bacon and cheese contained 10g.
Standard sandwiches typically contain less salt and sugar than baguettes, partly because the serving size is smaller.
NHS guidance sets the maximum daily intake at 30g of free sugars per day, or 210g per week.
NHS sugar limits only apply to free sugars (those added to products) rather than those found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables.
In addition to the limit of 30g of free sugars per day, the government recommends that these sugars make up no more than 5 percent of the calories a person gets from food and drink each day.
Other sandwiches and baguettes available also contained more than half the recommended daily amount of salt for an adult.
Among the worst are Pret’s ham and greve baguette (3.85g) and the chain’s Italian prosciutto baguette (3.59g).
For comparison, a packet of Walker’s Salt and Vinegar Crisps or KP’s Salted Peanuts have about 0.4g of salt.
The sandwich chain, which has more than 400 stores in the UK, rounded out the top ten for highest salt content.
Adults are recommended to consume no more than 6 g of salt per day.
Eating too much salt can increase blood pressure by increasing the amount of water the body retains, causing the heart to work harder.
This can, over time, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The NHS advises that children eat less salt than adults because their kidneys are not as developed and are less able to process it.
At the opposite extreme was Tesco’s gluten-free chicken and bacon mayonnaise, with 0.4g of sugar and 1.4g of salt.
Other low scores included Caffe Nero’s free-range egg mayonnaise (0.6g sugar/1.5g salt) and Tesco’s gluten-free cheese and tomato sandwich (0.7g and 1.24g, respectively).
This graph shows the rise in prices on Pret’s delivery menu compared to 2020. The £7.15 for a ‘stylish cheddar and pickle baguette’ is the amount it costs in ‘travel centres’
In terms of calories, six high street options also contained more than 600 calories, with Pret’s cheddar, mustard and pickle sandwich topping the chart.
For comparison, a Mars bar has 228. Men are recommended to eat no more than 2,500 calories a day, while women are advised to limit themselves to 2,000.
A Pret spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Pret is known for our extensive menu of freshly made, quality food.
‘This includes salads, baguettes, sandwiches, fruit bowls, yogurts and more for customers to enjoy both at lunchtime and throughout the day.
‘We pride ourselves on the variety of our menu, which means our customers are spoiled for choice and we provide them with all the relevant nutritional information so they can make the right choice for them.
“This includes our popular baguettes, which are more substantial, while many of our sandwiches are under 400 calories.”
They added: ‘We are committed to using quality ingredients in our products, which our team members prepare fresh in Pret’s kitchens every day, around the clock.
“This is a fundamental difference from other products on the market, which are often made by food manufacturers in off-site factories.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson also said: “We are committed to offering choice, quality and value and clearly label our products with nutritional information to help our customers make informed decisions about the products they choose to buy.”
Meanwhile, this newspaper understands that Tesco has removed more than 71 billion calories from its brand ranges since 2018.
Between 2018 and 2020, more than 20 billion calories were removed from its range of front-of-store sandwiches by reducing added sugar, salt and fat.
MailOnline has contacted Costa and Caffe Nero for comment.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS.
• Eat at least 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Base meals are based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains.
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole grain crackers, 2 thick slices of whole wheat bread, and one large baked potato with skin.
• Eat some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) by choosing low-fat, low-sugar options.
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish each week, one of which should be fatty).
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small quantities
• Drink 6 to 8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should consume less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day.
Fountain: NHS Eatwell Guide