Consensus Action on Salt and Health

News centre menu

Stock and Gravies

➔ Some stock cubes are made of 50% salt - nearly a teaspoon of salt per cube 
➔ The labels are confusing and complicated - hiding the true salt levels 
➔ 87% of stocks and 99% of gravies would receive an amber or red traffic light for salt content 
➔ Less than half of gravy products would meet the department of health's recommended targets 

For stocks data, Stocks Raw Data [PDF 262KB]

For gravies data, Gravy Raw Data [PDF 265KB]

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has unveiled research revealing the high and unnecessary levels of hidden salt in gravies and stocks [1].  The survey looked at different types of leading brand and supermarket own brand stocks and gravies, comparing the levels of salt against the recommended targets due to be set out by the Department of Health in the New Year [2].

Out of the 103 stocks tested, only 13 products would be given a green traffic light for salt [3] - some products, including Aldi Quixo Beef Stock Cubes and Kallo Yeast Free Organic Vegetable Stock Cube were made up of 50% salt, containing 5g salt per cube (a teaspoon is approx. 6g). Stocks are used in various ways, for example; making soup, gravy, risottos, crumbled into Bolognese or used in marinades.  However, the amount of salt per stock cube is rarely declared on the label, making it very difficult to work out how much salt we are actually consuming.  

High examples of Stocks (salt per cube calculated from data provided on pack):
1. Aldi Quixo Beef Stock Cubes, 5.09g salt per cube
2. Kallo Yeast Free Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes, 5.0g salt per cube
3. Asda Beef Stock, 5g salt per 500g packet (fresh)
4. Knorr Fish Stock Pots, 4.66g salt per pot
5. Kallo Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes, 4.5g salt per cube

Out of 135 gravies tested, 99% would receive an ‘amber’ or ‘red’ traffic light for salt content and could needlessly add nearly a gram of salt to your meal.  Forty four per cent of gravies would also fail to meet the Department of Health’s suggested maximum target for meat extracts. The saltiest gravy was Bisto’s Original Gravy Powder, which contains 0.83g salt per 50ml portion.

High examples of Gravies (per 100ml as consumed);
1. Bisto Original Gravy Powder, 1.66g salt
2. Bisto Best Vegetable Gravy, 1.58g salt
3. Bisto Best Caramelised Onion Gravy, 1.58g salt
4. Colman’s Instant Chicken Gravy, 1.42g salt
5. Knorr Gravy Pot Chicken Gravy, 1.4g salt

Sonia Pombo, CASH Nutritionist says: “Many of us will be tucking into a delicious roast this Christmas, but as this research shows, doing so could add large amounts of unnecessary salt to our diet.  Together with the rest of your meal, you could be eating nearly 10 grams of salt for your Christmas lunch! The levels of salt in stock and gravy vary greatly, so we need to learn how to understand the labels when buying these products and switch to a less salty choice!”

Low Examples of Stocks (salt per cube calculated from data provided on pack):
1. Asda Extra Special Concentrated Vegetable Stock, 0.38g salt per 250g container (fresh)
2. Kallo Organic Beef Stock, Very Low Salt, 0.5g salt per cube
3. Oxo Reduced Salt Chicken Stock Cubes, 0.81g salt per cube
4. Sainsbury’s Chicken Stock, 0.9 salt per 450g container (fresh)
5. Waitrose A Ladel of Chicken Stock, 1g salt per 500g container (fresh)

Low Examples of Gravies (per 100ml as consumed):
1. Waitrose Delicate & Savoury Chicken Gravy with Roast Chicken Stock & White Wine,  0.5g salt (fresh)
2. Waitrose Christmas Poultry Gravy, 0.5g salt (fresh)
3. Bisto Reduced Salt Chicken Gravy Granules, 0.56g salt
4. Schwartz Roast Turkey Gravy Mix, 0.58g salt
5. Tesco Finest Chicken Gravy, 0.6g salt (fresh)

Findings suggest that fresh, ready-made stocks and gravies tend to be lower in salt, however Asda’s Beef Stock, contains one of the highest quantities of salt, with 5g salt per 500g packet. Best of all, for a free and delicious gravy, why not make your own from the juices (not the fat!) of your turkey?

Graham MacGregor, CASH Chairman and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London says ‘It is a scandal that there is still so much unnecessary salt in commonly used ingredients, when it is perfectly possible to make them with less.  Manufacturers must start working towards the new salt targets immediately. For every one gram reduction in salt intake, we can prevent 12,000 heart attacks, strokes and heart failures, half of which would have been fatal.’



Notes to Editor
Go to for more information or contact:
● CASH - Sonia Pombo on: 020 7882 5941 or 07951 905449,  
● CASH - Professor Graham MacGregor on: 07946 405617,    
● National PR - Jessica Filbey on: 0207 242 2844 / 07967215644
● National PR - Tamara Swarbreck on: 0207 242 2844 / 07760 307830

Survey Details/References;
1 - Survey details, full data tables are available with this release
The survey looked at 103 stock and 135 gravy products from all leading supermarkets (Aldi, ASDA, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose). All types of stocks and gravies available in stores at the time of collection were included (stock cubes, stock pots, stock concentrates, stock powder, fresh stock, gravy granules, gravy pots and gravy mixes). Salt content of products were rounded to one decimal place.
Data was collected in store and online from manufacturers websites in November 2013 and products in this release purchased w/c 9th December.

2 - The Department of Health’s proposed salt targets for meat extracts
• 0.88g salt per 100ml as consumed (Sales Weighted Average)
• 1g salt per 100ml as consumed (Maximum)

3 - Traffic Light Labelling
• Traffic light labelling given per 100g as consumed
• Colour coding based on new front of pack traffic Light labelling criteria.
Salt - Red >1.5g/100g, Amber >0.30≤1.50/100g, Green ≤0.30g/100g

Special thank you to Lorraine Hamilton for the homepage photograph 

Return to top