Salty food accusations: food industry responds

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

CASH is targeting salt levels in salads. Picture courtesy of iStock-anthonyjhall
CASH is targeting salt levels in salads. Picture courtesy of iStock-anthonyjhall
Restaurants and retailers have hit back at Consensus Action on Salt & Health’s (CASH’s) name and shame campaign attacking the salt content of salads, targeting firms including Morrisons and Nando’s.

According to CASH, the four saltiest restaurant salads were:

1: Pizza Express’s Grand Chicken Caesar Salad, which CASH described as containing “an astonishing 5.3g of salt/serving, the equivalent of two and a half​ [McDonald's] Big Macs, and almost your whole days’ worth of salt”​, based on the Department of Health’s (DH’s) adult recommended daily intake salt target of 6g;

2: Pizza Express’s Warm Vegetable & Goats Cheese Salad, containing 5g of salt per serving, the equivalent of four fifths (83%) of an adult’s maximum recommended daily intake;

3: Wagamama’s Lobster Super Salad, containing 4.5g salt/serving, three quarters (75%) of an adult’s salt limit for the day in just one meal;

4: Nando’s Mediterranean Salad with Chicken Breast, ​containing 4g of salt per serving – two thirds of an adult’s maximum recommended intake.

Four saltiest retail salads

CASH named the four saltiest retail salads as:

1: Morrisons’ Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad, containing 2.8g of salt/290g serving;

2: Marks & Spencer’s Chicken, Bacon & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad, containing 2.58g of salt/380g serving;

3: Boots’ Delicious Simply Tuna & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad, containing 2.25g of salt/300g serving;

4: John West’s Light Lunch Moroccan Style Salmon Salad, containing 2.2g of salt/220g serving.

Graham MacGregor, CASH chairman and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary College, University of London, urged manufacturers to sign up to the DH’s 2017 salt pledge.“It is nonsensical that something as seemingly healthy as a salad should contain an ingredient that is proven to be harmful to your health,” ​he said.

Independent nutritionist Gaynor Bussell told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “I actually feel this survey has a point. It is important to compare products per portion or the actual amount one would eat. This is actually why traffic lights can be misleading if done per 100g.

”I think salads are a nutrition minefield as the word salad evokes health, but as well as salt, many can be high in fat and therefore calories due to the fat level-either from oil or mayo.”

Marks & Spencer and Morrisons issued statements stressing their continuing work to cut salt content.

We’ve lead the way on salt reduction in many products including salads and this product does meet the government’s current salt targets,”​ said a spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer. “The salt content is also clearly labelled on the front of pack ...

“We are committed to continuing to review the salt in our products, reformulating where possible and providing labelling and information that helps consumers and employees take action to reduce the salt in their diet.”

‘Continue to work hard’

A Morrisons spokesman said: “We were the first major retailer to sign the government’s 2017 salt reduction targets, which is a statement of our commitment.”

Pizza Express said it was committed to a salt reduction programme as part of signing up to the DH’s Public Health Responsibility Deal. We offer low salt salad options which start at 0.3g of salt per serving,” ​said a spokeswoman for the restaurant.

“Our full nutritionals, including salt levels, are available to everyone so it’s no secret that, of the eight salads currently on our menu, two are higher in salt.” ​She also said Pizza Express did not cook with salt or put salt on tables in its outlets.

Nando’s also stressed that it offered salad options with varying levels of salt content. “The majority of salt in our Mediterranean salad comes from the feta cheese and olives, both of which can be removed to lower the salt content,” ​a spokeswoman said.

‘Range of other salads’

“We also offer a range of other salads with less salt. Nutritional information about all of our food is available on our ​[mobile phone] app, website and in all our restaurants on request.”

A spokeswoman for Boots said it had signed up to the DH’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, adding: “In 2014 we reported good progress with our salads meeting the 2012 salt reduction target.

“We've listened to our customers and have worked with the DH to introduce a traffic light colour-coding system on our Boots lunch range to help our customers make healthier choices.”

Wagamamas and John West had not responded to FoodManufacture.co.uk at the time this article was published.

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