Take "healthy salad" claims with a pinch of salt:
CASH finds 20% of salads are as salty as a burger and fries
New research from Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) reveals that one in five (19%) ready-made salads for sale on the High Street contain 3g or over of salt per serving, half the total daily recommended intake of 6g for adults. A total of 40% of the 81 salads surveyed contained over 2g of salt, and two variations of chicken salad from McDonalds – Crispy chicken salad with pasta plus low fat Newman's Own light French dressing and croutons, and Crispy chicken ranch salad plus low fat Newman's Own light Caesar dressing and croutons - contain the whole day's recommended salt intake - 5.9g and 6.2g respectively – in a single serving!
By comparison, a McDonalds Big Mac burger and large fries contains just over 3g of salt.
Furthermore, the CASH survey found that just under half - 39 of the 81 salads surveyed (48%) - had no on-pack labelling for salt or sodium and only 18 out of 81 had the salt per portion labelled on the pack. Indeed, the ten saltiest salads were the least well labelled with only one of them carrying any information at all. If customers want to find out the salt content of these unlabelled salads they need to telephone the outlet's customer services department or look up the product on the company website.
"Many people think salads, particularly in the summer, are a more healthy option," said Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of CASH and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at St George's Hospital in London. "I don't understand how manufacturers can justify selling salads that contain over half, or in some cases ALL, of our daily recommended limit of salt in a single serving. No way can these salads be described as a healthy option - one-fifth of them contain the same or more salt than a Big Mac and Fries. These salads MUST be clearly labelled with the salt content per serving and if it is more than 3 g of salt per serving they should carry a clear health warning. It is my view that the public are currently being misled."
Fausta Cerezo-Gomez, Food Liaison Officer for CASH, said "Only 2 out of 81 salads contain less than 0.5g of salt, which would be considered a healthy option. A home-prepared serving of fresh salad leaves with cold roast chicken accompanied by a home-made dressing without the addition of salt or mustard contains less than one third of a gram of salt (0.3g in a single serving)."
"The greater the salt intake, the greater the risk of developing high blood pressure – the major cause of strokes, heart failure and heart attacks in the UK," she continues. "Reducing our average salt intake to 6g per day, which is the Department of Health and Food Standards Agency target, would save 70,000 people from developing strokes and heart attacks, 35,000 of which are fatal1. Furthermore, surviving a stroke is the commonest cause of severe disability in the UK."