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CASH Survey Finds Ready-To-Eat Healthy Salads Have Unhealthy Levels Of Salt
Huge amounts of salt continue to be added to many restaurant, café and supermarket salads, according to a new survey by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH).
This is despite calls in 2010 to lower salt in salads, as certain restaurateurs and food manufacturers continue to sneak in large amounts of unnecessary salt when it comes to serving up their ‘healthier’ dishes and raising the nation’s blood pressure.
CASH surveyed 650 ready-to-eat salads available for purchase from supermarkets, restaurants, cafés and fast food restaurants and found nearly three quarters (77% - 511 products) to contain more salt than a packet of crisps (0.5g/portion).
Of the out of home salads: * Pizza Express’ ‘Grand Chicken Caesar Salad’ contains an astonishing 5.3g salt/serving, the equivalent of two and a half Big Macs [Ref 3], and almost your whole days’ worth of salt (6g) in just one meal. * Pizza Express' ‘Warm Vegetable & Goats Cheese Salad’ containing 5g salt/serving - four fifths (83%) of your maximum recommended intake. * Wagamama’s ‘Lobster Super Salad’ contains 4.5g salt/serving – three quarters (75%) of your salt limit for the day in just one meal. * Nando’s ‘Mediterranean Salad with Chicken Breast’ which sounds like the healthy option contains a whopping 4.00g salt/serving, that’s two thirds (67%) our maximum recommended intake. * A McDonald’s ‘Crispy Chicken & Bacon Salad’ has MORE salt (1.3g vs 1.2g), fat (19g vs 8g) and calories (380kcal vs 250kcal) per portion than a McDonald’s Hamburger.
Of the supermarket salads, examples of those with the largest amount of salt/serving include: * Morrisons ‘Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad’ 2.8g salt/290g serving Marks & Spencer ‘Chicken, Bacon & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad’ 2.58g salt/380g serving * Boots ‘Delicious Simply Tuna & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad’ 2.25g salt/300g serving * John West ‘Light Lunch Moroccan Style Salmon Salad’ 2.2g salt/220g serving
What’s interesting is that even the specially created foods which target the health conscious shopper e.g. superfood and detox salads, can also contain a high salt content. For example:
* Pod ‘Chicken Detox Box’ contains 4.0g salt/serving (two thirds of our Reference Intake (RI)) * Pizza Express under 500 calories ‘Leggera Salmon Salad’ contains 2.4g salt/serving (40% RI)
If you read the label, you can find lower salt options, however over one in ten (15%) salads would get a red (high) colour for salt, and two thirds (69%) would receive an amber (medium) colour. The survey found some salads surveyed with the much less salt added included a mixture from both restaurants and supermarkets, for example:
NB. These are examples of salads where portion sizes are the whole packet and dressing is included
Sonia Pombo, a nutritionist at CASH explains, “Say the word ‘salad’ and you tend to imagine a bowl of healthy stuff nestled amongst some leaves, but that’s not accurate. Whilst salad itself is both healthy and tasty, food manufacturers and restaurants continue to add unnecessary salt to the dish, which not only alters the taste and makes you feel bloated, but more seriously, can lead to high blood pressure – the main cause of strokes and heart attacks.”
In 2010, CASH conducted a similar salad survey and thankfully the average salt content in supermarkets salads has reduced significantly by 35% since 2005, from 1.64g/portion to 1.26g/portion in 2010 and to 1.05g/portion in 2014.
Graham MacGregor, CASH Chairman and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London says “It is nonsensical that something as seemingly healthy as a salad should contain an ingredient that is proven to be harmful to your health. Whilst we congratulate the responsible manufacturers that have gradually reduced the salt in their products, we urge ALL manufacturers to sign up to the Department of Health’s 2017 salt pledge [Ref 8] and to cut the salt in their dishes now. Many salads are deceptively high in salt, and the very large variation of salt content shows that the highest ones can easily be reduced. The food industry needs to show much greater responsibility for its customers' health.”
Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, says: “It’s not unreasonable to think that if you pick a salad it’s going to be a healthy choice. But this survey shows in some cases what you see might not always be what you get. A colourful salad full of vegetables may look like a healthy way towards your 5-a-day but what you can’t see is the salt content which, in some cases, could amount to almost a whole day’s worth in one portion. It’s good to see progress is being made to drive down our salt intake, but there’s still work to be done. That's why clear, colour-coded labelling on food packaging is so important to help people make more positive, informed choices about what they eat.”
The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 20 July, show familiar trends bringing new market and retailer records.
Grocery price inflation has fallen for the tenth successive period and now stands at 0.4%. Competitive pricing among the big grocers and deflation in the price of staple items such as vegetables, milk and bread has driven inflation to the lowest level since October 2006 when Kantar Worldpanel began this measure. As a result, market growth has fallen to 0.9% – the lowest figure for 10 years.
Edward Garner, director at Kantar Worldpanel explains: “Aldi’s 32% growth rate has lifted its market share to 4.8%; this is a new record for the retailer and means it has nearly caught up with Waitrose on 4.9%. Similarly, Lidl sales have grown by nearly 20% and it has held onto its record share of 3.6%.
“Waitrose has continued to resist pressure from the competition, testament to its policy of maximum differentiation, and has grown sales by 3.4%. This figure is well above the market average and thereby has lifted its market share.”
Among the big four grocers, both Asda and Sainsbury’s have held onto their market shares of 17.0% and 16.6% respectively. Conversely, Tesco and Morrisons have recorded losses with sales for both outlets declining by 3.8% compared with this time last year.
Iceland has posted a small drop in sales, its first since 2005, but has retained its 2.0% share.
Grocery inflation has seen its tenth successive fall and now stands at 0.4% for the 12 week period ending 20 July 2014. This is the lowest level since we began recording GPI in October 2006 and reflects the impact of Aldi and Lidl and the market’s competitive response, as well as deflation in some major categories including vegetables, bread and milk.
Grocery Market Growth Bounces Back As Food Inflation Hits 0.8%
The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 22 June 2014, show market growth bouncing back to 2.8% from last period’s historic low of 1.7%.
Compared with our measure of inflation which stands at just 0.8%, this indicates real volume growth.
Fraser McKevitt, consumer insight consultant at Kantar Worldpanel, explains: “The low grocery price inflation this period will be welcome news for household budgets. The outlook is positive as we predict continuing sub 1% levels into the near future, providing some relief for cash-strapped consumers.
“Aldi and Lidl continue their stellar growth streaks, holding their all-time record shares reached last period of 4.7% and 3.6% respectively. Both retailers have recently announced impressive expansion plans. Aldi will aim to double its store numbers to 1,000 by 2021, while Lidl is seeking to boost its presence with an eventual total of 1,500 outlets.”
Looking outside of the big four, Waitrose and Farmfoods are both continuing to perform strongly with the latter growing ahead of the market at 23.3%. Iceland held its 2.0% market share in line with last year.
Fraser continues: “There are mixed fortunes for the big four with Tesco and Morrisons registering falls in both share and sales. By contrast, both Asda and Sainsbury’s have increased share, beating the market average with growth rates of 3.6% and 3.0% respectively.”