Shoppers urged to boycott salty foodsPeople advised to switch to healthier alternatives

29 January 2007

Shoppers have been asked to boycott foods that still contain ‘large and unnecessary amounts’ of added salt.

The campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) says manufacturers will be forced to take action and reformulate excessively salty foods if sales of these products fall.

It’s urging shoppers not to buy products that contain either more than 1.25g of salt (0.5g of sodium) per 100g or more than 2.4g of salt per serving.

The campaign group’s analysis of 127 goods previously ‘named and shamed’ for being too salty shows that manufacturers have reduced the salt content of two thirds of those items.

Strokes and heart attacks

The campaign group's chairman, Professor Graham MacGregor, congratulated Birds Eye, New Covent Garden Soups, Heinz and supermarket chains for their progress.

He said: 'This proves that lower salt versions can be developed and we must now support the lower salt products and vote with our feet when it comes to the ones that have not been reformulated or still contain unnecessarily high amounts of salt.’

Eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is linked to increased risks of strokes and heart attacks.

Professor MacGregor added: ‘If we halve our salt intake, i.e. make a reduction of 6g/day from the current intake of 10-12g, we will save approximately 70,000 people from developing strokes and heart attacks each year, 35,000 of which are fatal.’

High salt content

One of the food products highlighted by Cash as having a high salt content is Unilever Peperami Sticks with around 4.0g of salt per 100g.

But Unilever said it has given its Peperami sticks a new formula and that from today sticks with a salt content reduced to 3.6g per 100g will be available to retailers.

A company spokesman said: ‘Unilever is committed to its salt reduction programme and has further plans to reduce levels as part of this initiative.’

Tesco also questioned some of Cash’s findings. It said its ‘Stay Fresh Wholemeal Bread’ contained 0.9g salt per 100g, not 1.5g, while its ‘Finest Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce’ contains 0.9g salt per 100g not 2.3g.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to reducing the levels of salt in our products and are concerned that CASH may have looked at old products that have now been reformulated as the figures that they are giving are incorrect.’