Action on Salt: salt content of non-meat alternatives is "excessive"

24 Oct 2018

The UK’s Action on Salt pressure group has exposed what it claims are excessive amounts of salt in ‘healthy’ processed meat alternatives and demand urgent action from Public Health England.

Action on Salt: salt content of non-meat alternatives is excessive

The UK’s Action on Salt pressure group has exposed what it claims are excessive amounts of salt in ‘healthy’ processed meat alternatives and demanded urgent action from Public Health England.

It says that 28% of all products surveyed are higher in salt than their maximum salt targets - due to be met by 31st December 2017, and that meat free burgers contain on average more salt than meat burgers (0.75g/serve v 0.89g/serve). 20% of products are said to have have no front of pack colour-coded labelling.

This finding, it claims, reaffirms how ineffective the voluntary salt targets are due to complete lack of monitoring and guidance from Public Health England.

Of the 157 supermarket meat alternative products surveyed, the highest average salt content per 100g was found in meat free bacon (2.03g/100g) and meat free sliced meat (1.56g/100g). Per portion, on average vegetarian kievs were the saltiest (1.03g) – saltier than a large portion of McDonald’s frie - followed by meat free sausages (0.96g) and, surprisingly, plain meat-free pieces and fillets (0.87g) – as salty as three portions of salted peanuts.

Action on Salt last surveyed vegetarian alternatives in 2008 and while the average salt content per 100g has decreased for both meat-free sausages and meat-free burgers, it notes that the average salt content per portion of meat-free burgers has increased from 0.80g to 0.89g.

Action on Salt’s survey of real beef burgers from leading retailers revealed that their average salt content per serving - 0.75g - was lower than that of meat free burgers at 0.89g per serve– saltier than a portion of salt and vinegar crisps.

32 of the 154 (20%) products included in the survey had no front of pack colour-coded labelling. Disappointingly, the organisation said, only three of all products surveyed were low in salt with 0.3g per 100g or less.

As Action on Salt says it has consistently shown in all product surveys, there is a large variation in the salt content of products within the same category. Most meat-free categories had at least a 50% difference in salt content between the saltiest and least salty products. Meat-free mince had the biggest variation with an 83% difference.

This, the organisation said, once again highlights that it is very easy to make products with less salt and so all manufacturers should aim to reduce salt in their products, not just the responsible few.

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