Food manufacturers accused of ignoring 'killer' salt levels

Bread rolls should contain no more than 1.13g of salt/100g by the year end (Getty)
Bread rolls should contain no more than 1.13g of salt/100g by the year end (Getty)

A damning new report shows that just one food group is on course to meet tough regulations on salt levels this year.

Bread rolls are the only food type out of 28 analysed by health campaigners to meet the maximum allowed salt levels.

This means that processed food should have no more than a certain amount of salt per 100g and no other food examined by Consensus Action for Salt and Health (Cash) researchers comes close to meeting the targets.

Comparing ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ shopping baskets revealed a difference in salt content of 57g – the equivalent of 124 packets of Walkers Ready Salted crisps.

Cash said: “The shopping basket analysis reaffirms the public health goal of consuming no more than 6g salt per person per day (i.e. just over 1 teaspoon of salt per person/day) is achievable, yet manufacturers are dragging their heels.”

It called on Public Health England to rigorously pursue manufacturers to bring down salt levels, which contributes to 14,000 deaths a year.

“Salt is the forgotten killer,” said Katharine Jenner, registered nutritionist and Campaign Director for Cash.

“The findings from our FoodSwitch shopping basket survey are alarming and we are shocked to see that many food manufacturers and retailers are still failing to meet the salt reduction targets, despite having had years to work towards them.”

FoodSwitch UK is a free smartphone app which allows users to scan the barcode of over 100,000 packaged food and drinks sold across major UK supermarkets, and offer healthier alternatives.

It identified, for example, that Sainsbury’s 8 beef burgers with a hint of seasoning had 1.25g of salt/100g – way ahead of Essential Waitrose 4 quarter pounders 100% British at 0.77g/100g.

And, in granola snack bars, Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut & Caramel Bites had 1.13g of salt/100g against Jordans Country Crisp with Sun-Ripe Strawberries with 0.03g of salt/100g.

“This is a national scandal,” said Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Cash.

“The UK was leading the world in salt reduction, but PHE are doing nothing to ensure that the 2017 salt targets are met.”

In a separate study, it has further been revealed that Britain’s children have already consumed a third of their daily recommended intake of salt before they have even headed off to school.

For children aged 4-6, the NHS recommends no more than 3g of salt per day. But DW Fitness Clubs found popular cereals contain high levels of salt.

A serving of 30g of cereal contains:

  • Kellogg’s Krave = 12% of your child’s recommended salt intake (6% for adults)

  • Rice Krispies = 12% of your child’s recommended salt intake (6% for adults)

  • Cheerios = 10% of your child’s recommended salt intake (5% for adults)

  • Coco Krispies = 8% of your recommended salt intake (4% for adults)