Christmas survey reveals progress on salt reduction

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Salt, Food

Christmas themed treats in UK supermarkets contain a fraction of the salt found in equivalent products in fast food chains and coffee shops, according to a new survey.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) found festive sandwiches, cakes, and snacks sold in supermarkets to be comparatively low in salt. Pitching a Christmas menu from Marks and Spencer’s against the McDonalds Festive Menu revealed 4.5g difference in salt content.

Meanwhile, CASH found the Sainsbury’s Smoked Turkey Cranberry sandwich had a quarter of the salt in the Eat. Christmas Full Works Sandwich, which weighed in with 4.2g of salt per portion.

To put that figure in context, the current recommended daily intake for salt is 6g a day. Higher daily consumption levels have been linked to high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

Salt reduction

CASH campaign manager Katherine Jenner called the high levels of salt in certain products “shocking” ​but praised supermarkets for the progress made on salt reduction.

“Reducing salt is now built into new product development at supermarkets,”​ said Jenner.

Supermarkets have been working with Food Standards Agency (FSA) to cut out excess salt from their products, and Jenner said this latest survey revealed that they are sticking to their commitments.

Unlike fast food and coffee shop treats, CASH said Christmas foods in supermarkets also provided clear and comprehensive front of pack labelling.

But Jenner said there is still room for improvement. Illustrating this point she said that none of the festive sandwiches surveyed by CASH could be given a “green light”​ for salt under the FSA traffic light system.

Christmas meal

This is the second year in a row that CASH has taken a look at the salt consumption over the festive period. In 2008 the salt campaigners warned that the average Christmas meal could contain over 11g of salt – almost twice the recommended daily limit for adults.

Salty snacks, smocked salmon, and stuffing are some of the biggest offenders over the Christmas period but salt can also lurk unexpectedly in sweet products. For example, in its latest survey CASH found 0.942g salt per portion of Costa Christmas Chocolate Cake.

British consumers looking to avoid excess salt at Christmas would be better off buying traditional mince pies, as they beat off many more contemporary festive foods in the salt survey.

Related topics: Science

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