ROMANTIC MEALS FOR 2 COULD LEAD TO BROKEN HEARTS!

14th February 2011

  • A Valentine's Day meal could contain more than an adult's recommended daily maximum of 6g of salt  
  • Tesco’s Finest 2 course meal contains 6.3g salt with the main course alone containing 4.3g
  • Eating out for Valentine's Day could result in you having more salt than is found in 15 packets of crisps

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New Research from CASH reveals EXCESSIVELY high levels of salt contained in Valentine’s Day meal options

Valentine’s Day meal examples include:
Eating In – Tesco’s Finest 2 course meal contains more than your daily maximum of salt (6.3g)
Eating Out - Pizza Express’s Padana Pizza contains more salt than fifteen packets of crisps (7.5g)

Many supermarkets are promoting ‘dine in for 2’ meal deals. Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) looked at 95 products from the 5 supermarkets participating in Valentine’s Day offers and found that you and your loved one could be consuming excessively high levels of salt [Ref 1].  

If you’re planning on staying in for a romantic Valentine’s dinner, you could be consuming a surprisingly large amount of salt in just one meal, putting your heart health at risk.  The quick and easy options including ready prepared starters, mains, side dishes and desserts may help save time but can be full of unnecessary salt.  Three of the major supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer’s, all had meal combinations available totaling over SIX grams of salt, so you could easily exceed the adult’s maximum recommended salt intake for a whole day.

The highest main meal available was a Tesco’s Finest (Restaurant Collection) Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Roasted Vegetables with a whopping 4.3g salt per portion.  Combined with their side dish of Roasted Potatoes with Bacon and Garlic (1.6g salt per portion) and dessert of 2 Bramley Apple Tarts (0.4g salt per portion), the two course meal contains 6.3g of salt [Ref 2]. This is over 6 times more salt than the lowest meal combination available, which was at Marks & Spencer’s, where a full three course meal option contained just 1.04g salt.

Highest and lowest meal combination available for a Valentine’s Day Meal [Ref 2]: 

 Highest - Tesco mealSalt/ portionLowest - Marks & Spencer MealSalt/ portion
StarterNot on offer M&S (The collection) 4 Dressed Orkney Crab Minis0.38g
Main CourseTesco Finest (Restaurant collection) Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Roasted Vegetables 4.3gM&S British Sirloin Steaks with Dried Red & Green Peppers & Lightly Seasoned Butter0.51g
Side DishTesco Finest (Restaurant collection) Roasted potatoes with bacon and garlic1.6gM&S (Ready Prepared) Garlic Mushrooms with Soft Cheese Topped with Breadcrumbs0.15g
DessertTesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) 2 Bramley Apple Tarts0.4gM&S 2 Chocolate & Raspberry Valentinestrace
Wine & ChocolatesBottle of wine n/aBottle of wine, box of chocolatesn/a
 Total Salt6.3gTotal Salt1.04g


“At this time of the year we should be thinking about protecting the heart of the one we love” says Katharine Jenner, CASH Campaign Director. “By avoiding these salty ready prepared meals and cooking a meal with fresh ingredients we can all help cut down our salt intake. For great low salt recipe ideas, check out the CASH website www.actiononsalt.org.uk”  

If you read the labels carefully, you can find lower salt options available, for instance by swapping the Tesco’s Finest Lamb Shanks, Roasted Potatoes and Bramley Apple Tarts for Tesco’s Finest Salmon en Croute (0.9g per portion), Green Vegetables (0.5g salt) and Gu 2 Hot Choc Melting Middle Puds (0.25g per portion), you could save NEARLY FIVE grams of salt.

When dining out, it is much harder to find out how much salt you are eating, as none of the surveyed restaurants’ Valentine’s menus, including Ask, Beefeater, Café Rouge, Carluccios, Giraffe, La Tasca, Las Iguanas, Loch Fyne, Pizza Express, Prezzo or Zizzi, provided nutritional information for salt.  From the data available from customer services, CASH found a ‘Padana’ pizza from the Pizza Express Valentine’s menu contained 7.5g salt, more than 15 packets of crisps (Ref 3).  Their ‘La Reine’ pizza is a third lower, but still contains 5g salt, nearly your full daily maximum.

“Too much salt raises our blood pressure, putting unnecessary strain on our hearts, leading to strokes and heart attacks” says Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and Chairman of CASH. “We should all be aiming for less that 6g salt a day, which is hard whilst the food industry is still filling our food with salt.”

Top tips to save on salt:
1. Show your partner how much you love them and make the food yourself!
2. Avoid ready prepared vegetable dishes and cook your own with no added salt
3. Read the labels carefully and choose products that are lower in salt
4. Try not to add salt, or use salty sauces such as tomato sauce and mustard at the table
5. When eating out, try to avoid salty ingredients such as bacon, ham, olives and cheese, and don’t be afraid to ask the waiter for ‘less salt please’!

Notes to Editor

Ref 1 – Survey details (Full data available with this release) and tables below:
• This survey looked at 95 products available within Valentine ’s Day timed meal deals from Tesco’s, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, The Co-operative, Sainsbury’s. Asda and Morrisons did not have specific Valentine’s deals at time of publication
• This included starters, mains, side dishes, desserts, wine and chocolates – the offers are detailed in the tables below
• Product data was collected from product packaging in store and online. Pizza Express data obtained from Pizza Express Customer Services
• The survey was carried out in February 2011. All products mentioned in this release were re-checked on the 11th February 2011. NB In store offers may be subject to change

Ref 3 - A standard 34.5g packet of Walkers Ready Salted Crisps contains 0.5g of salt.

Table 1: highest and lowest available meal combinations from eating participating supermarket:

The Co-operative: Eat in £5. Includes 1 main + 2 side dishes

 Highest CombinationSalt/ portionLowest CombinationSalt/ portion
Main CourseThe Co-operative (Eat in) Salmon en Croute1.5gThe Co-operative (Eat in) Sweet Potato with Chipottle and Tornberry Tartlets0.5g
Side DishThe Co-operative (Eat in) Pamentier Potatoes0.9gThe Co-operative (Eat in) Winter Roasting Vegetables0.1g
Side DishThe Co-operative (Eat in) Carrot & Swede Mash0.8gThe Co-operative (Eat in) Ready to Roast Chanteray Carrots & Red Onion0.1g
Total 3.2g 0.7g

 

Marks & Spencer: Dine in for two, £20. Includes starter, main meal, side dish, dessert, bottle of wine and box of chocolates

 Highest CombinationSalt/ portionLowest CombinationSalt/ portion
StarterM&S (The Cook Menu) Thai Style Fish Cakes Finished with an Aromatic Acacia Honey & Ginger Glaze1.80gM&S (The Collection) 4 Dressed Orkney Crab Minis0.38g
Main CourseM&S (The Cook Menu) 21 Day Matured British Beef Rump Steaks with a Creamy Peppercorn Sauce with a Madeira Wine & Brandy2.05gM& British Sirloin Steaks with Dried Red & Green Peppers & Lightly Seasoned Butter0.51g
Side DishM&S Ultimate Potato Mash1.35gM&S (Ready Prepared) Garlic Mushrooms with Soft Cheese Topped with Breadcrumbs0.15g
DessertM&S 2 Melting Middle Chocolate Puddings0.90gM&S 2 Chocolate & Raspberry Valentinestrace
Wine & ChocolatesBottle of wine, Box of chocolatesn/aBottle of wine, Box of chocolatesn/a
Total 6.1g 1.04g

 

Sainsbury's: Wine and Dine 2 for £15. Includes starter, main meal, side dish, dessert, drink and chocolates

 Highest CombinationSalt/ portionLowest CombinationSalt/ portion
StarterSainsbury's Taste the Difference Rarebit Fishcakes1.64gNew Covent Garden Plum Tomato & Basil Soup0.9
Main CourseSainsbury's Taste the Difference Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni3.36g2 Sea Bass Fillets with Caramelised Ginger & Lime Butter0.26g
Side DishSainsbury's Taste the Difference Gruyere Cheese and Garlic Fougasse0.76gSainsbury's Taste the Difference (Gourmet) Garden Vegetables with Lemon and Mint Butter0.13g
DessertSainsbury's British Cheese Selection (overall)0.51gSainsbury's Creme Brulee0.1g
Wine & ChocolatesBottle of wine, Box of chocolatesn/aBottle of wine, Box of chocolatesn/a
Total 6.27g 1.39g

 

Tesco: Finest Dinner for 2, £15. Includes main meal, side dish, dessert and bottle of wine

 Highest CombinationSalt/ PortionLowest CombinationSalt/ Portion
Main CourseTesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Roasted Vegetables4.3gTesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) Salmon en Croute0.9g
Side DishTesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) Roasted potatoes with Bacon and Garlic1.6gTesco Finest Green Vegetables0.5g
DessertTesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) 2 Bramley Apple Tarts0.4gGu 2 Hot Choc Melting Middle Puds0.25g
Wine & ChocolatesBottle of winen/aBottle of Winen/a
Total 6.3g 1.65g

 

Waitrose: £15 dinner for 2. Includes main meal, side dish, dessert and Prosecco or chocolate

 Highest CombinationSalt/ PortionLowest CombinationSalt/ Portion
Main CourseWaitrose (Easy to Cook) Sirloin Steak with Creamy Bernaise Butter2.08gWaitrose (Menu) Salmon Wellington for 21.49g
Side DishWaitrose (Menu) Creamy Mash for 21.29gWaitrose (Ready Prepared) Chef's Selection0.02g
DessertFru 2 Sensationally Citrusy Lemon Cheesecakes0.5gGu 2 Raspberry and Chilli Choc Potstrace
Wine & ChocolatesProsecco or Chocolatesn/aProsecco or Chocolatesn/a
Total 3.87g 1.51g