Comment from Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), on Trading Standards’ survey of children’s foods:

19th June 2006

“I find it shocking that food manufacturers are still producing foods aimed at children that contain large quantities of salt.  The Scooby Doo Chicken Burger meal, for example, contains almost 3g of salt – the maximum limit for the whole day for a four to six year old, and almost one and a half times the daily limit for a three year old. And yet the packaging claims that the meal is ‘vitamin enriched’ because it includes a small pot of yogurt.  

“For several years, CASH has been drawing attention to the fact that many breakfast cereals contain high levels of salt.  In that time, Kellogg’s have reduced the salt in several of their cereals, as have Quaker Oats.  But Nestle has made no attempt to reformulate Golden Grahams, a brand aimed at children, which still has the same salt content, weight for weight, as seawater.  A bowl of this cereal contains as much salt as two packets of crisps.

“We know that salt acts as a chronic long-term toxin, slowing putting up blood pressure as we grow older.  This rise in blood pressure is the major cause of strokes, heart failure and heart attacks.  These conditions are the major cause of death and disability in the UK.  Scientific research also suggests that salt is implicated in osteoporosis, stomach cancer and asthma.  If a food were found to contain high levels of a chemical that carried a risk of causing these diseases, there would quite rightly be an outcry until it was removed.  Why are we still allowing food manufacturers to fill our children’s food with huge amounts of salt?”

Examples of high salt children’s food products – sampled by CASH 15.06.06

Product nameManufacturerSalt per 100gSalt / serving% 1-3 yr GDA (2g/day)% 4-6 yr GDA (3g/day)

% 7-10 yr GDA (5g/day)

Scooby Doo Chicken Burger MealGrampian Country Food Group0.925g2.8g140%93.33%56%
Peperami 25g stickUnilever3.975g1.0g50%33.3%20%
Mr Greedy Mini Hot DogsYe Olde Oak2.25g1.5g (half 120g can)75%50%30%
Golden Grahams CerealNestle2.5g1.0g (40g bowl)50%33.3%20%
CheeriosNestle1.25g0.5g (40g bowl)25%16.6% 10%
Dairylea Lunchables Stack-emsKraft n/a2.0g100%66.6%40%
Salt & Vinegar Potato TwirlsSainsbury’s 5.8g1.16g (20g serving)58%38.6%23.2%