Eating just five olives contains a third of an adult’s daily-recommended limit of salt, public health experts have warned.
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London, and Action on Salt said people did not realise how unhealthy picnic snacks could be after finding some olives contain double the salt concentration as seawater.
The new research, which analysed 555 savoury finger foods available from retailers, found some varieties of Halkidiki olives contained 5g of salt per 100g. The recommended daily limit for an adult is 6g.
One in four savoury picnic foods were found to be ‘dangerously high’ in salt and almost one in three have no colour-coded front-of-pack labelling, making it difficult for consumers to make healthy choices, campaigners warned.
A Ginsters Cornish Pasty (272g) contained 2.99g of salt per portion, equivalent to seven portions of salted peanuts, Aldi's Eat & Go Sausages & Ketchup contained 2.2g per portion, as much salt as four and a half bags of ready salted crisps, and Fry's Spicy Three Bean Pasty contained 1.8g per portion, the same amount as a McDonald's hamburger and fries.
The study also found the saltiest sausage roll was Fry's Sausage Roll, a vegan brand with 1.8g salt per 100g.
And almost half of the products surveyed were ‘worryingly high’ in saturated fat.
Morrisons Cheese & Onion Slices (330g) contain 17.7g of saturated fat per portion, almost meeting a woman's recommended daily limit.
Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of AoS, said: “Due to inaction by the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England in enforcing the 2017 salt reduction targets, the public are still eating more salt than recommended which is leading to thousands dying or suffering from entirely unnecessary strokes and heart disease.
“Reducing salt is one of the most cost-effective measures to protect health. The time has come for the Secretary of State for Health to resuscitate the UK's salt reduction programme, helping us to, once again, be world leading rather than trailing behind the rest of the world. The public's health has suffered long enough.”