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Action on Salt

Valentines Survey

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

|Click here for Net Doctor article

Click here for all data - Valentines day survey data [PDF 218KB] 

Click here for highest and lowest tables - Highest & Lowest tables valentines day [PDF 290KB]

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 meal Salt/ portion Lowest - Marks & Spencer Meal Salt/ portion
Starter Not on offer   M&S (The collection) 4 Dressed Orkney Crab Minis 0.38g
Main Course Tesco Finest (Restaurant collection) Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Roasted Vegetables  4.3g M&S British Sirloin Steaks with Dried Red & Green Peppers & Lightly Seasoned Butter 0.51g
Side Dish Tesco Finest (Restaurant collection) Roasted potatoes with bacon and garlic 1.6g M&S (Ready Prepared) Garlic Mushrooms with Soft Cheese Topped with Breadcrumbs 0.15g
Dessert Tesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) 2 Bramley Apple Tarts 0.4g M&S 2 Chocolate & Raspberry Valentines trace
Wine & Chocolates Bottle of wine  n/a Bottle of wine, box of chocolates n/a
  Total Salt 6.3g Total Salt 1.04g


“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 Combination Salt/ portion Lowest Combination Salt/ portion
Main Course The Co-operative (Eat in) Salmon en Croute 1.5g The Co-operative (Eat in) Sweet Potato with Chipottle and Tornberry Tartlets 0.5g
Side Dish The Co-operative (Eat in) Pamentier Potatoes 0.9g The Co-operative (Eat in) Winter Roasting Vegetables 0.1g
Side Dish The Co-operative (Eat in) Carrot & Swede Mash 0.8g The Co-operative (Eat in) Ready to Roast Chanteray Carrots & Red Onion 0.1g
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 Combination Salt/ portion Lowest Combination Salt/ portion
Starter M&S (The Cook Menu) Thai Style Fish Cakes Finished with an Aromatic Acacia Honey & Ginger Glaze 1.80g M&S (The Collection) 4 Dressed Orkney Crab Minis 0.38g
Main Course M&S (The Cook Menu) 21 Day Matured British Beef Rump Steaks with a Creamy Peppercorn Sauce with a Madeira Wine & Brandy 2.05g M& British Sirloin Steaks with Dried Red & Green Peppers & Lightly Seasoned Butter 0.51g
Side Dish M&S Ultimate Potato Mash 1.35g M&S (Ready Prepared) Garlic Mushrooms with Soft Cheese Topped with Breadcrumbs 0.15g
Dessert M&S 2 Melting Middle Chocolate Puddings 0.90g M&S 2 Chocolate & Raspberry Valentines trace
Wine & Chocolates Bottle of wine, Box of chocolates n/a Bottle of wine, Box of chocolates n/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 Combination Salt/ portion Lowest Combination Salt/ portion
Starter Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Rarebit Fishcakes 1.64g New Covent Garden Plum Tomato & Basil Soup 0.9
Main Course Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni 3.36g 2 Sea Bass Fillets with Caramelised Ginger & Lime Butter 0.26g
Side Dish Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Gruyere Cheese and Garlic Fougasse 0.76g Sainsbury's Taste the Difference (Gourmet) Garden Vegetables with Lemon and Mint Butter 0.13g
Dessert Sainsbury's British Cheese Selection (overall) 0.51g Sainsbury's Creme Brulee 0.1g
Wine & Chocolates Bottle of wine, Box of chocolates n/a Bottle of wine, Box of chocolates n/a
Total   6.27g   1.39g

 

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

  Highest Combination Salt/ Portion Lowest Combination Salt/ Portion
Main Course Tesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Roasted Vegetables 4.3g Tesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) Salmon en Croute 0.9g
Side Dish Tesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) Roasted potatoes with Bacon and Garlic 1.6g Tesco Finest Green Vegetables 0.5g
Dessert Tesco Finest (Restaurant Collection) 2 Bramley Apple Tarts 0.4g Gu 2 Hot Choc Melting Middle Puds 0.25g
Wine & Chocolates Bottle of wine n/a Bottle of Wine n/a
Total   6.3g   1.65g

 

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

  Highest Combination Salt/ Portion Lowest Combination Salt/ Portion
Main Course Waitrose (Easy to Cook) Sirloin Steak with Creamy Bernaise Butter 2.08g Waitrose (Menu) Salmon Wellington for 2 1.49g
Side Dish Waitrose (Menu) Creamy Mash for 2 1.29g Waitrose (Ready Prepared) Chef's Selection 0.02g
Dessert Fru 2 Sensationally Citrusy Lemon Cheesecakes 0.5g Gu 2 Raspberry and Chilli Choc Pots trace
Wine & Chocolates Prosecco or Chocolates n/a Prosecco or Chocolates n/a
Total   3.87g   1.51g
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