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Food industry dishes up desserts full of salt

1st August 2005

The following survey was based on manufacturer's sodium figures declared on product labels. Since publication two manufacturers have informed us that the sodium information on their labels is inaccurate and that the true sodium content is considerably lower than stated. Whilst we are pleased to note that these products contains significantly less salt than indicated, the Food Commission is still concerned that salt is added to products which consumers would reasonably expect to be salt free.

At a time when the government's Food Standards Agency is putting pressure on UK food manufacturers and supermarkets to reduce the salt in their products, a Food Magazine survey reveals high levels of salt where consumers might least expect to find it - in desserts, cakes and biscuits.

The survey found Angel Delight chocolate dessert containing half a gram of salt in each serving; Marks & Spencer lemon sponge puddings containing 1.3 grams of salt per portion; a Boots triple-chocolate cookie containing 0.8g of salt, and a Rumblers Bio yogurt and cereal pot containing a hefty 3.2g of salt per portion (Ennis Foods Ltd, manufacturers of Rumblers Bio, have since informed us that the actual salt content of this product is 0.45g per serving)

The saltiest product found in the survey was a Morrison's own-brand tinned Strawberry Sponge Pudding containing an astonishing 6g* of salt in a single 115g serving. (Morrisons have since informed us that this product is mislabelled and contains 0.52g salt per 100g, equivalent to 0.6g salt per serving)

The government recommendation is that adults should eat no more than 6g of salt per day to maintain health, with children eating proportionally less depending on their age.

"The level of salt contained in these desserts is another example of the food industry hiding high levels of salt in food. People might expect desserts to contain significant levels of fat or sugar but they would not expect them to contain so much salt," said Dr Emma Mast, Project Coordinator for CASH, an academic network campaigning for salt reduction in processed foods, for the good of heart health. "To have the whole day's salt intake for an adult in one Morrison's Strawberry Sponge pudding - which is only part of what is eaten for one meal - cannot be justified in any way and they should take immediate action to remove these products from their shelves and reformulate them with a salt concentration that is less than 0.1%."

Note: Dr Mast's comments were based on the inaccurate sodium information given on the Morrison's product. The Food Commission has since been informed that this product contains 0.6g salt per serving, which is a tenth of an adult's recommended maximum daily salt intake.

More information: www.foodcomm.org.uk/latest_salt_jul05.htm.

For press enquiries about salty desserts, contact Tim Lobstein, Director of the Food Commission, 020 7837 2250; email: press@foodcomm.org.uk

Dr Emma Mast can be contacted at CASH on 020 8725 2409; email: emast@sgul.ac.uk, website: http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/

* The label on the Morrison's Strawberry Sponge pudding declares 2.1g of sodium per 100g (2.4g of sodium per 115g portion). 2.4g of sodium is equivalent to 6g of salt. Whilst a small proportion of the sodium will come from other ingredients such as sodium compound additives (e.g. sodium bicarbonate), the majority comes from added salt.

 

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