Analysis shows that sandwiches sold on the British high street can contain as much sugar as one and a half Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Some are even saltier than nine packs of salt and vinegar chips.
MailOnline’s extensive audit comes after Pret was criticized last week for charging an eye-watering £7.15 for its ‘posh’ cheese and pickle baguette at a London Underground station branch.
The offering costs £5.95 at transport hubs to take away, but to eat it in store the chain then charges £1.20 VAT 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 where you can search for your favorite lunch option.
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When it comes to sugar, Sainsbury’s tops the list with its brie, bacon and chilli chutney sandwich (19.7g).
The supermarket, which has more than 1,400 stores in Great Britain, was in the top ten five times with its variety of sandwiches.
Pret’s baguette with cheddar and pickles – the same one that saw the company explode last week – was also one of the worst offenders, with 18.6 grams of sugar.
Tesco’s pulled beef and red Leicester sandwich, meanwhile, contained 11.3 grams of sugar, while the BBQ chicken, bacon and cheese contained 10 grams.
Standard bread rolls usually contain less salt and sugar than baguettes, partly because the portion size is smaller.
The NHS guidelines set the maximum daily intake at 30 grams of free sugars per day, or 210 grams per week.
The NHS sugar limits only apply to free sugars – the sugars added to products – and not to the sugars naturally found in milk, fruit and vegetables.
In addition to the limit of 30 grams of free sugars per day, the government recommends that these sugars should not account for more than 5 percent of the calories a person consumes daily through food and drink.
Other available sandwiches and baguettes also contain more than half the daily recommended amount of salt for adults.
Among the worst offenders are Pret’s ham en grève baguette (3.85g) and the chain’s Italian prosciutto baguette (3.59g).
For comparison, a pack of Walker’s salt and vinegar chips or KP’s salted peanuts contain about 0.4g of salt.
The sandwich chain, which has more than 400 stores in Britain, completed the entire top ten for the highest salt content.
Adults are advised not to eat more than 6 grams 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.
Over time, this can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The NHS advises children to eat less salt than adults because their kidneys are not yet developed and cannot process it as well.
On the other side came Tesco’s gluten-free chicken and bacon mayo, with 0.4g of sugar and 1.4g of salt.
Other low scorers were 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 graph shows the increase 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 centres’
In terms of calories, six high street options also contained more than 600 calories, with Pret’s cheddar, mustard and pickles sandwich topping the list.
By comparison, a Mars bar has 228. Men are advised to eat no more than 2,500 calories per 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 prepared and high-quality dishes.
‘This includes salads, baguettes, sandwiches, fruit pots, yoghurts and more for customers to enjoy at lunch or throughout the day.
‘We pride ourselves on the variety of our menu, giving our customers plenty 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 sturdier, while many of our sandwiches are under 400 calories.’
They added: ‘We strive to use high-quality ingredients in our products, which are freshly prepared in Pret kitchens by our team members every day and all day long.
‘This is a fundamental difference from other products on the market, which are often made by food manufacturers in external factories.’
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s also said: ‘We strive to provide 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 own brand range since 2018.
Between 2018 and 2020, more than 20 billion calories were removed from the sandwich selection at the front of the store 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, preferably whole grains, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of varied fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Basic meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole wheat
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-grain cereal cookies, 2 thick slices of whole-grain bread, and a large baked potato with the skin still on
• Provide some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks), opting for lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish per week, one portion of which is fatty)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small quantities
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water per day
• Adults should have less than 6 grams of salt and 20 grams of saturated fat for women or 30 grams for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell guide