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Salt advice to parents will be hard to achieve

15th May, 2003

The Food Commission has warned that new government guidelines for reducing children’s salt consumption will be difficult for most parents to achieve without a significant reduction of salt in processed foods, and better food labelling.

The new salt guidelines will be issued on 15th May, by the government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). As the SACN report notes: “High blood pressure is common in the UK. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and premature death. Reducing the average salt intake of the population is likely to decrease the burden of high blood pressure and improve public health.”

The SACN report Salt and Health is the result of a systematic review of the scientific evidence of the effects of salt on health. It identifies the main sources of salt in people’s diets and, for the first time, sets target daily intake levels for children.

The Food Commission welcomed the Food Standards Agency’s advice to parents but warned that the food industry has strongly opposed and obstructed all previous attempts by government to set limits on salt consumption.

“A reduction in salt consumption is vital for the nation’s health” said Annie Seeley, nutritionist for the Food Commission, “but we must see a genuine commitment from the food industry to reduce levels of salt in processed foods if we are to make any significant impact on diet-related stroke and heart disease in the UK.”

A list of salty children’s food products is included below, along with examples of how children’s salt intake builds up during the day. The SACN report Salt and Health can be found on: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/saltandhealth0503.pdf  

How to calculate the salt content of your food

Food Commission surveys have shown that most food labels do not show how much salt is in a product, meaning that you cannot work out the salt content. When the information is given, it is often listed as ‘sodium’, which must be multiplied by 2.5 to give the amount of salt.

Some manufacturers (such as Marks & Spencers and the Co-op) now list the ‘salt equivalent’ and relate this to guideline daily intakes for adults, making it easier for shoppers to make healthier choices.

The 'target intakes' of grams of salt per day, which we should all aim to keep below, are as follows:

0-12 mths - less than 1 gram of salt
7-12 mths - 1 gram of salt
1-3 yrs - 2 grams of salt
4-6 yrs - 3 grams of salt
7-10 yrs - 5 grams of salt
11 yrs and over - 6 grams of salt

Most people don’t realise that they are eating high levels of salt in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereals and pastry products, yet up to 70% of their salt intake comes from processed food.

Many children's breakfast cereals are still high in salt, as reported in the latest Food Magazine. Click on the link below to view a PDF version of the article which highlights the high salt content of many Nestlé children's cereals. Click here for the PDF

 

Examples of daily salt intake for a three year old, a six year old and a ten year old, eating a range of popular children’s processed foods.
Example daily menu for a 3 year old (excluding drinks)
Meal
Grams of Salt per portion
Grams of Salt per 100 g
Breakfast
Thomas the Tank Engine and friends shaped cereal (recommended 30g serving with 125 ml of semi-skimmed milk)
0.5g
1g
Lunch
HP Barney pasta shapes in tomato sauce portion (213g),
one slice of white bread
2.75g

0.9g
1.25g

1.25g
Dinner
Marks and Spencers Tweenies Meal for One containing: 4 Doodles and bones shaped chicken nuggets with chips, tomato ketchup and strawberry flavour yoghurt
1.1g
0.4g
Total salt intake
5.25g
The maximum salt intake for a 3 year old is 2g a day
This menu is more than two and a half times the maximum intake for a child of this age.
Example daily menu for a 6 year old (excluding drinks)
Meal
Grams of salt per portion
Grams of salt per 100 g
Breakfast
Coco Pops: (recommended 30g serving with 125 ml of semi-skimmed milk)
0.5g
1.25g
Snack
Walkers Square Potato Snacks salt and vinegar Flavour 25g bag
1.25g
5.25g
Lunch
Dairylea lunchable Yummy Ham Stack’ems

2.75g
2.5g
Dinner
Sun Valley Chicken Teddy Bears x two
200 g of Heinz Teletubbies pasta shapes in tomato sauce
1.4g

2g
1.3g

1g
Total salt intake
7.9g
The maximum recommended daily salt intake for a 5 year old is 3 grams a day.
A 6 year old child eating this menu will be consuming two and a half times the recommended maximum amount of salt
Example menu for a 10 year old child (excluding drinks)
Meal
Grams of Salt per portion
Grams of Salt per 100g
Breakfast
Nestle Shreddies (recommended portion 45g with 125 ml semi-skimmed milk)
0.75g
1.25g
Lunch
Cheestrings Attack-a-Snack cheesetring and chicken wrap
Apple. Update September 2004: Since this survey was published manufacturer Golden Vale Food Products have informed us that the salt content of Cheestrings Attack-a-Snack (chicken wrap) has been reduced to a level of 0.7g of sodium (equivalent to 1.75g of salt) per portion, with a further reduction promised.
4g
3.75g
Snack
KP Prawn and Cocktail flavour skips
0.75g
3.75g
Dinner
Iceland Kids Crew cheese and tomato flavour pizza
Chips
Heinz baked beans (suggested serving on can 207g)
1.1g

2g
1.3g

1g
Total salt intake
8.6 g
The maximum recommended intake for a 10 year old child is 5g a day
A 10 year old child eating this menu will be eating one and a half times the maximum recommended intake of salt
Some of the saltiest children’s foods
Manufacturer
Food

Grams of salt per portion
Grams of salt per 100g
Golden Vale Cheese Company
Cheestrings Attack-a-Snack cheesetring and chicken wrap. Update September 2004: Since this survey was published manufacturer Golden Vale Food Products have informed us that the salt content of Cheestrings Attack-a-Snack (chicken wrap) has been reduced to a level of 0.7g of sodium (equivalent to 1.75g of salt) per portion, with a further reduction promised.
4g
3.75g
Dailycer Ltd
Thomas the Tank Engine and friends shaped cereal (recommended 30g serving with 125 ml of semi-skimmed milk)
0.5g
1.0g
HP
HP Barney pasta shapes in tomato sauce portion (213g)
2.75g
1.25g
Marks and Spencers
Tweenies Meal for One containing: 4 Doodles and bones shaped chicken nuggets with chips, tomato ketchup and strawberry flavour yoghurt
1.1g
0.4g
Kelloggs
Coco Pops: (recommended 30g serving with 125 ml of semi-skimmed milk)
0.5g
1.25g
Walkers
Walkers Square Potato Snacks salt and vinegar Flavour 25g bag
1.25g
5.25g
Dairylea
Dairylea Lunchable Yummy Ham Stack’ems

2.75g
2.5g
Sun Valley
Chicken Teddy Bears x2
1.4g
1.3g
Heinz
Teletubbies pasta shapes in tomato sauce (205g can)
2g
1g
Nestlé
Shreddies (recommended portion 45g with 125 ml semi-skimmed milk)
0.75g
1.25g
KP Snacks
Prawn and Cocktail flavour Skips
0.75g
3.75g
Iceland
Kids Crew cheese and tomato flavour pizza
1.10g
1.3g
Heinz
Baked beans (suggested serving on can 207g)
2g
1g
Dairylea
Dairylea Strip Cheese

0.75g
3.25g
Marks and Spencers
Chicken and vegetable casserole (part of their kids range)
0.9g
0.4g
Walkers
Monster Munch
0.75g
3.25g
Walkers
Wotsits
0.5g
2.5g
Aunt Bessie’s
Tidgy Toads (mini pork sausages in crispy Yorkshire pudding)

0.5g
1.25g
Heinz
Eazy Squirt ketchup (serving = 10ml)
0.25
3g

 

 

 

 

The following pages may also be of interest

  • Press: Salt advice to parents will be hard to achieve
    The Food Commission warns that government guidelines for reducing children’s salt consumption will be difficult for parents to achieve without a significant reduction of salt in processed foods, and better food labelling.