Sandwiches sold on Britain’s high streets can contain as much sugar as one-and-a-half Krispy Kreme doughnuts, analysis shows.
Some are even saltier than nine packets of salt and vinegar crisps.
MailOnline’s extensive audit comes as Pret was slammed last week for charging an eye-watering £7.15 for its ‘posh’ cheese and pickle baguette at a London tube station branch.
The offering costs £5.95 at transport hub stations to take away but to eat it in store, the chain then levies a £1.20 VAT charge on the sandwich.
Our analysis looked at more than 100 sandwiches and baguettes sold at chains like Pret, Costa and Caffe Nero, as well as shops like Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Full results are published in a fascinating table which allows you to search for your favourite lunchtime option.
Your browser does not support iframes.
When it comes to sugar, Sainsbury’s topped the chart with its brie, bacon and chilli chutney sandwich (19.7g).
The supermarket, which has more than 1,400 stores in Britain, featured five times in the top ten with its variety of sandwiches.
Pret’s cheddar and pickle baguette — the same one that saw the company blasted last week — was also one of the worst offenders, with 18.6g of sugar.
Tesco’s pulled beef and red Leicester sandwich meanwhile contained 11.3 of sugar, with its BBQ chicken, bacon and cheese logging 10g.
Standard sandwiches typically contain less salt and sugar than baguettes, partly because the portion size is smaller.
NHS guidance sets the maximum daily intake at 30g of free sugars a day, or 210g per week.
The NHS sugar limits only apply to free sugars — those added to products — rather than those found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables.
As well as the 30g of free sugars per day limit, the government recommends these sugars should not make up more than 5 per cent of the calories a person gets from food and drink each day.
Other sandwiches and baguettes available also contained more than half an adult’s daily recommended salt allowance.
Among the worst offenders include 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 around 0.4g of salt.
The sandwich chain, which has more than 400 stores in the UK, rounded out the whole top ten for highest salt content.
Adults are advised to eat no more than 6g of salt per day.
Eating too much salt can increase blood pressure by increasing the amount of water the body retains, making the heart have to work harder.
This can, over time, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The NHS advises children to eat less salt than adults because their kidneys are not as developed and are less able to process it.
At the opposite end came Tesco’s gluten free chicken and bacon mayo, with 0.4g of sugar and 1.4g of salt.
Other low scorers included Caffe Nero’s free-range egg mayo (0.6g sugar/1.5g salt) and Tesco’s gluten-free cheese and tomato sandwich (0.7g and 1.24g, respectively).
This graphic shows the rise in prices on Pret’s delivery menu compared to 2020. The £7.15 for a ‘posh cheddar and pickle baguette’ is the amount it costs at ‘travel hubs’
In terms of calories, six high street options also contained more than 600 calories, with Pret’s cheddar, mustard and pickles sandwich topping the chart.
For comparison, a Mars bar has 228. Men are advised to eat no more than 2,500 calories a day, while women are urged to stick to 2,000.
A spokesperson for Pret told MailOnline: ‘Pret is known for our extensive menu of freshly made and quality sourced food.
‘This includes salads, baguettes, sandwiches, fruit pots, yoghurts and more for customers to enjoy both at lunchtime and throughout the day.
‘We pride ourselves on the variety of our menu meaning our customers have lots of 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 come in at under 400 calories.’
They added: ‘We’re committed to using quality ingredients in our products, which are prepared fresh in Pret kitchens every day and throughout the day by our Team Members.
‘This is a fundamental difference from other products on the market, which are often made by food manufacturers in factories off-site.’
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 Tesco has removed over 71billion calories from its own brand ranges since 2018.
Between 2018 and 2020 over 20billion calories were removed from its front of store sandwich range by reducing added sugar, salt and fat.
MailOnline has approached 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 wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide