The leading pressure group calling for lower salt levels in food has blasted high street bakery retailers for failing to seriously reduce salt levels in soups, with high street chain EAT coming in for the most flak.

A survey carried out on supermarkes and high street chains found the highest average levels of salt in the café takeaway soups, with 102-shop EAT – which is the 12th biggest bakery retailer in the UK, according to British Baker’s annual BB75 league table – found to have the highest salt levels.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) said that while its survey showed that progress had been made to reduce the salt in soups, a quarter of all soups still failed to meet the 2010 Food Standards Agency (FSA) average voluntary targets and only 6% could be labelled ‘green’ based on the FSA’s voluntary traffic light nutrition labelling system.

CASH surveyed 575 ready-to-eat soups, including fresh (chilled), ready-to-eat (canned and pouches) as well as soups available in the larger high street cafés, including EAT, Caffè Nero and Pret A Manger.

Ten products from EAT were found to contain more salt than the current daily maximum recommendation of 6g salt per day. The highest level of salt found was in the Eat Very Big Soup Bold Thai Green Chicken Curry, containing 8.070g salt per 32 oz/907g portion.

The highest salt in a standard-sized high street coffee shop takeaway soup was the Caffè Nero Organic Carrot & Coriander soup, at 3.6g per portion – over three-and-a-half times more salty than the lowest café takeaway soup, a Malaysian Chicken Soup from Pret A Manger at 1.0g per portion.

“In general, the café-style takeaway soups tend to be saltiest, whereas the fresh soups tend to be lower in salt,” said Hannah Brinsden who carried out the research for CASH.

EAT, which last September revealed to British Baker its ambitions to double its store numbers within five years, was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing.

A spokesperson for Caffè Nero said: "We have a variety of soups within our range. The Carrot and Coriander soup has the highest salt content of our soups but we also have a Leek and Potato soup, which only contains 1.2g of salt per portion - our portion is 300g. Our Leek and Potato soup is highlighted in the CASH report as being one of the ’lowest salt cafè soups per portion’.

"All our soup packaging displays nutritional information including salt content, which allows customers to compare and choose from the range of soups available. We have been working with the Food Standards Agency in recent years, and will continue to do so, to reduce the salt content in our food products."