A NEW nationwide product survey by Action on Salthas exposed the unnecessary levels of salt present in many table sauces, Asian sauces and marinades.
The expert group based at Queen Mary University of Londonis today calling on the Government to deliver a detailed and robust salt reduction programme for 2020. This should involve extending the salt targets to include categories that have so far been ignored, along with mandated targets for key contributors of salt in the UK diet. Mandatory front of pack colour coded labelling across all food and drink is also an urgent necessity.
In Action on Salt’s review of 357 products, over one in two sauces (54%) are found to be high in salt and would receive a red label on front of pack. What’s more, where products do have salt targets set by Government, over a third (38%) currently exceed their respective maximum target, despite these targets needing to be met by 2017.
The saltiest sauces surveyed are Asian sauces, many of which do not have specific salt targets for industry to follow. Whilst 88% of Asian sauces are high in salt and would receive a red label on front of pack, the vast majority (80%) are lacking front of pack colour coded labelling, making it difficult for the consumer to tell at a glance what the salt levels are.
Across all the different sauces, variation in salt content was evident with some brands containing a fraction of the amount of salt as their competitors (see table 1) demonstrating that reducing salt is possible with no technological implications in doing so.
When it comes to lower-salt varieties, many products are not always readily available in all supermarkets, meaning customers are not given enough options to choose from. Without front of pack labelling, consumers are even less able to tell at a glance which ones are lower in salt.
The saltiest sauce surveyed was Blue Dragon Fish Sauce, with 26.7g/100g salt; just one tablespoon would provide 4g salt – that’s TWO THIRDS of an adult’s maximum recommended intake for the day, and the equivalent of nearly nine anchovy fillets!.
The saltiest dark soy sauces was Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark Soy Sauce & Asda Dark Soy Sauce with 19.3g/100g salt – nearly eight times the concentration of sea water. Just one tablespoon would provide nearly 50% of an adult’s maximum daily salt intake – the equivalent of six packets of ready salted crisps.
Whilst only seven products (i.e. a quarter of all soy sauces surveyed) claim ‘reduced’ salt on the label, some actually contain more salt than ‘normal’ soy varieties.
Sonia Pombo, Campaign Manager for Action on Salt says: “These sauces are cupboard staples for many of us but we are unknowingly adding vast amounts of salt to our already salty foods. The message to the government is very clear: set robust salt targets for 2020 which will drive reformulation. This should also include mandatory targets for the main contributors of salt in UK diet so that everyone’s health benefits, including the socially deprived. Mandated colour coded front of pack labelling should also be implemented immediately so that consumers can make healthier, more informed choices”.