Almost all plant bread would get an amber light because of salt content, if latest Food Standards Agency (FSA) “red, amber and green” labelling criteria were applied on loaves.

Almost all branded and own-label loaves of bread fall outside the threshold for low salt food – a maximum of 0.3g per 100g is allowed. For example, Kingsmill Sandwich White and Hovis and Warburtons branded loaves have 1.25g salt per 100g. Only Sainsbury’s own-label bread, which boasts 0.3g salt per 100g could use a green label on salt.

However, bread would get a green light in the other three criteria the Agency wants marked on labels – fat, saturates and total sugars. The FSA Board has recommended labels should use red, amber or green colour coding to indicate whether levels of these nutrients are high, medium or low, and give information on the levels of nutrients per portion.

The FSA released these recommendations for front-of-pack labelling schemes last week, asking supermarkets and manufacturers to adopt the scheme in categories including ready meals, pizzas and pre-packed sandwiches. Bakery is not one of the categories targeted, although the FSA says suppliers and retailers may choose to apply the scheme in that area.

Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have already endorsed the FSA’s colour-coded approach, but have indicated they would combine the FSA system with information on Guideline Daily Amounts. And Sainsbury’s has said its Wheel of Health labelling system is in line with the FSA’s recommendations. Tesco is sticking to a system, already introduced, which avoids colour-coding foods but gives figures for the percentage of a guideline daily intake of fat, salt and sugar that each product provides.

Deirdre Hutton, chair of the FSA said: “Developing a consistent way of clearly highlighting how much fat, sugar and salt a food contains will make it simpler for people to put healthy eating advice into practice when shopping. We want to see more supermarkets and manufacturers adopting our core principles as this type of labelling will be effective in helping their customers to improve their health.”