Secret salt: CASH slams salt levels in ‘healthy’ salads

More than three quarters of salads on sale in the UK would recieve a red or amber warning for salt content, says CASH.

Huge amounts of salt continue to be added to many restaurant, café and supermarket salads in the UK, according to a new survey by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH).

Under traffic light labelling schemes, more than one in ten (15%) salads on the UK market would get a red (high) colour for salt, and two thirds (69%) would receive an amber (medium) colour, according to a new survey of 650 ready-to-eat salads available for purchase from supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and fast food restaurants.

The UK-based organisation, which has seen great success in driving the salt reduction agenda, revealed that nearly three quarters of all salads tested (77% - 511 products) contain more salt than a packet of crisps (0.5g per portion) despite calls to lower salt in salads in 2010.

“It is nonsensical that something as seemingly healthy as a salad should contain an ingredient that is proven to be harmful to your health,” commented CASH chairman Professor Graham MacGregor. “Whilst we congratulate the responsible manufacturers that have gradually reduced the salt in their products, we urge ALL manufacturers to sign up to the Department of Health’s 2017 salt pledge and to cut the salt in their dishes now.”

“Many salads are deceptively high in salt, and the very large variation of salt content shows that the highest ones can easily be reduced. The food industry needs to show much greater responsibility for its customers’ health.”

Sonia Pombo, a nutritionist at CASH added that a similar 2010 survey by CASH showed that the average salt content in supermarkets salads has reduced significantly, by 35% since 2005 - from 1.64 grams per portion to 1.26g per portion in 2010 and to 1.05g per portion in 2014.

“Congratulations to manufacturers that have made reductions,” said Pombo.

Survey details

The findings showed the salt content in some restaurant salads was so high they contained almost 6g of salt – the daily recommended allowance.

Pizza Express’ ‘Grand Chicken Caesar Salad’ was found to contain 5.3g salt, the equivalent of two and a half Big Macs and almost and almost a whole day’s allowance, while the firms ‘Warm Vegetable & Goats Cheese Salad’ containing 5g salt per serving equates to four fifths (83%) of the maximum recommended intake.

Despite sounding like healthy options, Wagamama’s ‘Lobster Super Salad’ contains 4.5g salt per serving, and Nando’s ‘Mediterranean Salad with Chicken Breast’ contained 4g salt of salt – both of which are more than two thirds of a daily intake.

Furthermore, CASH warned that even the specially created foods which target the health conscious shopper – such as superfood and detox salads - can also contain a high salt content.

For example, the survey showed that Pod ‘Chicken Detox Box’ contains 4.0g salt per serving (67% of recommended intake), while Pizza Express under 500 calories ‘Leggera Salmon Salad’ contains 2.4g salt per serving - over one third (40%) of the maximum recommended intake.

CASH noted, however, that lower salt options are available. It cited Boots Shapers ‘Moroccan Style Roasted Vegetable Salad’ (0.5g per 225g serving), Caffè Nero ‘Chicken Salad with Caesar Dressing’ (0.5g per 178g serving) and Waitrose ‘Refreshing & Delicate Quinoa & Sugar Snap Pea Salad’ (0.51g per 170g serving) as salads that contain much less added salt.

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