Health warning: the hidden danger in barbecue food

May 26th 2006

  • CASH survey shows very high levels of salt in supermarkets' barbecue meals


New research by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) shows that a typical barbecue meal bought from UK supermarkets can contain more than 6g of salt in one serving.  This is more salt than is recommended for the whole day for adults and far more than is recommended for children.

Despite the recent awful weather, National Barbecue Week runs from May 29th to June 4th!

In its latest survey, CASH looked at a typical barbecue meal, obtainable from some of the major supermarkets, of a burger in a bun with a slice of cheese and ketchup, a sausage and a marinated chicken portion, accompanied by coleslaw, Caesar salad and a small portion of Walkers Doritos crisps with a salsa dip.
 
The meal purchased from M&S totalled 7.13g of salt, while from Sainsbury’s it was 6.52g salt.  The meal from Tesco contained 6.41g salt and from Asda 5.61g. (See table for further details)

Children should eat much less salt than adults, but a six year-old eating a barbecue meal bought from M&S consisting of a burger in a bun with ketchup and a slice of cheese would be consuming a whopping 3.28g of salt – over their recommended daily limit of 3g.

“The UK is leading the world in reducing salt in the national diet, but surveys like this show that many favourite foods continue to be packed with huge and unnecessary amounts of hidden salt,” said Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Chairman of CASH.  “It is outrageous that one meal should contain more than the whole daily limit – why do supermarkets and food manufacturers continue to add so much unnecessary salt to these foods?  Why are we still being sold many food products that are almost as salty as sea water?”

“Salt puts up blood pressure which in turn leads to increased risk of heart attack and stroke,” continues Professor MacGregor. “We all need to choose foods that are much lower in salt and be more salt-aware, in other words reject foods that contain large amounts of hidden salt.”

“Why not make your own burgers from fresh mince, onions, garlic and pepper plus herbs, and try marinating fresh chicken in a salt-free mix of oil, garlic, pepper, herbs and wine if you like it,” said Jo Butten, Nutritionist for C

ASH.  “Then use a salt-free salad dressing and avoid the salty ketchup to reduce the salt content of your barbecue meal.  Not only is this so much more healthy, it will taste fantastic.”