Public Health England has revealed that some foods produced in the UK are still too salty, even though overall rates of salt consumption are falling.
Research from Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) shows certain sausage brands have high levels of salt.
Salt change needed
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, is firm on what needs to happen.
“Our salt consumption has decreased over the last decade – a loaf of bread has 40% less than it used to. However, some products are still too high in salt and we know this can be reduced further,” she said. “We’ve been very clear with the food industry on the importance of meeting the 2017 salt targets. We’ll report on their progress next year and will provide advice to government on the next steps.”
Those in food science jobs may well already be facing down the salt problem, trying to find new ways to balance flavour and trigger the same responses from customers without having as much salt in the products.
“PHE, which is now responsible, must get tough on those companies not complying and set new mandatory targets to be achieved by 2020 without further delay,” said Graham MacGregor, CASH chairman and professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London. “Otherwise, thousands of people will die from unnecessary strokes and heart attacks every year. Salt reduction is the most cost-effective and most successful public health preventive measure made to date, and it is a national tragedy that it is being allowed to fail.”
Study results critical
CASH carried out their research at Queen Mary University of London and revealed that many companies have failed to cut the salt content in their sausages. This is despite the fact that there were only three weeks left for them to meet the 2017 salt targets by changing their recipes.
New product development employees should have been hard at work coming up with new ways to reduce salt content, but that has not been the case for many brands. The study found that having a sausage sandwich might actually put more salt into your system than eating a double cheeseburger with large fries on the high street.
Vegetarian sausages are not exempt from the issue. Some of those, it was found, contain more salt that half of a margherita pizza from Pizza Hut.
CASH have now urged Public Health England to “get tough on the food industry” with new mandatory targets for 2020. The study found that the average salt content of sausages is 1.3g per 100g, or in other words, 1.16g of salt per two sausages.
“A figure that has remained relatively unchanged since 2011, exceeding the salt reduction targets in place at that time,” they said of the results. “As the 2017 voluntary salt targets set by PHE are due to be met in just three weeks’ time, CASH is calling for mandatory salt targets to be set, as the food industry has failed to protect the public’s health voluntarily.”
It will be shocking for some to hear just how much salt content is in an item we might all consider eating for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A versatile product and a key element to some traditional British dishes, it might be one of the most harmful things on our plates. While fat has long been a buzzword for dieters and those seeking to be healthy, the amount of salt is something we should also all be monitoring.
It is always best for consumers to check the nutritional label of their products before buying.