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Action on Salt


Embargoed until 00.01 – Thursday 28th July 2016

  • NEW research exposes many shop bought dips as being huge salt and fat traps loaded with excess calories  [REF 1]
  • A staggering 74% of houmous products have a red front of pack label for fat
  • 100g of Marks & Spencer’s Taramasalata contains more salt than 31 Ritz crackers! [REF 6] [REF 6]
  • CASH is urgently calling for the government’s to stop dragging their feet and produce a strong and robust Obesity Strategy  that will include reducing salt and fat in the nation’s diet

CASH_Salt, Fat & Saturates Data for Dips Press Release [PDF 433KB]

For Media coverage: Dips Media coverage

Widely regarded as a healthy option and a guilt-free alternative to snacks such as crisps and chocolate, a NEW survey by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), based at Queen Mary University of London, has revealed many dips are potential salt and fat traps [REF 1] – with some containing as much salt as 4 packets of ready salted crisps [REF 2].

The national survey looked at 210 chilled dips across all major supermarket chains including houmous, guacamole, salsa and taramasalata.

The most commonly sold dip is houmous (108 out of 210), yet it is far from the healthiest, with a staggering 74% (80 out of 108) having a red front of pack label for fat and not one single product providing a green front of pack label for salt [REF 3]. The dip, made predominantly from chickpeas, also contains on average 280 calories per 100g – more than 10% of the recommended daily intake for women [REF 4].

One of the saltiest houmous dips was Marks & Spencer’s Caramelised Onion Houmous containing more salt per 100g (1.53g) than 4 packets of ready salted crisps [REF 2] and over a quarter of the daily maximum recommended intake for salt [REF 5].

Of all the dips surveyed, taramasalata was the saltiest with an average salt content of 1.25g per 100g compared to salsa which was the least salty (average 0.49g per 100g). 100g of Marks & Spencer's Taramasalata (1.5g) for example contains more salt than 31 Ritz crackers! [REF 6]

There was also a large variation in salt content within the same dip category. For example the salt content in houmous dips ranged from 0.43g per 100g (Lidl Red Pepper Houmous) to 1.6g per 100g (Tesco Caramelised Onion Houmous) – that’s saltier in comparison to 100g of KP original salted peanuts [REF 7]. Similarly within sour-cream based dips, the salt content ranged from 0.25g per 100g (Essential Waitrose Reduced Fat Sour Cream & Chive) to 0.75g per 100g (Asda 30% Less Fat Sour Cream & Chive Dip).

Examples of products with high levels of salt per 100g include:
• Tesco Caramelised Onion Houmous - 1.6g
• Sabra Baba Ganoush - 1.6g
• Marks and Spencer Caramelised Onion Houmous - 1.53g
• Marks and Spencer Taramasalata - 1.5g
• Moorish Baba ghanoush-ish Aubergine Smoked dip – 1.4g

Examples of products with lower levels of salt per 100g:
• Essential Waitrose Reduced Fat Sour Cream & Chive Dip - 0.25g
• The Co-operative Salsa - 0.3g
• Tesco Tzatziki - 0.4g
• Waitrose Creamy & Refreshing Guacamole - 0.4g
• Lidl Red Pepper Houmous - 0.43g

When considering the saturated fat content of most dips surveyed, worryingly over one fifth (23%) had a red front of pack label for saturates [REF 3]. Those with the highest amounts per 100g were Essential Waitrose Sour Cream and Chive dip (10.2g) and Chovi Allioli Creamy Garlic Dip (10g). Based on a standard 50g portion size, both would provide over a quarter of an adult’s Reference Intake for saturates [REF 8].

What’s more, a portion of Waitrose Cheese and Chive dip contains more total fat than a Big Mac! [REF 9].

Sonia Pombo, Nutritionist and Campaign Manager for CASH says “Food companies need to take action and reduce both the salt and fat content in dips. The variation of different products revealed in our survey shows it can be achieved, which is why it’s equally important that we as individuals read the label carefully and opt for healthier brands. Also, remember to swap unhealthy sides with vegetables e.g. carrots, peppers and tomatoes, for added bonus.”

Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of CASH says “Once again we demonstrate the unnecessary amounts of salt and fat being added by the food industry to what could be a healthy product. A diet high in salt leads to strokes and heart disease, the commonest cause of death in the UK. Reducing salt is the most cost effective measure to reduce the number of people suffering, which is why it is imperative the government announce a new robust plan for reducing salt in our diet."

Top tips for choosing healthier dips:
1. Be label savvy and don’t be fooled by products branded as low/reduced fat – whilst the fat content may be lower the salt content may still be high! Take an extra moment to check the label and compare a few different ones before making your selection. Use our app ‘Foodswitch’ to help you swap to a healthier choice!
2. Choose dips with less fat and salt, like salsa, or a vegetable-based dip, rather than sour-cream or cheese-based dips which are higher in fat and saturates.
3. Be wary of portion sizes – eating straight out of the container will most likely lead to overconsumption, so spoon some out on your plate instead and fill it with healthier treats e.g. salad and fruit. Individual single-serve pots can be a good way to control portions.
4. Eat dips with vegetables rather than salty and high fat foods like crisps or cheese.
5. Get creative and make your own – that way you can control what you put in! Some plain low-fat yogurt, cucumber and a sprig of mint can make for a tasty homemade tzatziki, or why not make your own chunky salsa with some tomatoes, onion, chilli and fresh herbs?

Emma Williams, Senior Nutritionist at Waitrose says "Salt and fat reduction is a top priority for us in this regard and we are already reviewing our range of dips for 2017."


National PR - David Clarke: 07773 225516
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Notes to editors
REF 1 – Survey Details

This survey was carried out by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) based at Queen Mary University of London. For the purpose of this survey, all single pot chilled dips were included, but multipacks/variety packs and ambient dips were excluded and those that required heating prior to serving.
Data was collected for 210 chilled dips where nutritional information was available on packaging or websites for per 100g or per portion.  Data was collected by visiting all the main supermarkets Aldi, ASDA, The Co-operative, Iceland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s & Waitrose in June 2016.  Data on products not found in supermarkets during the visit were collected via the retailer’s website. Nutrient information per portion was calculated from per 100g data.

REF 2 – A 25g bag of Walkers Ready Salted crisps contains 0.35g salt
106 out of 174 dips with a suggested portion size contain the same amount of salt or more than this (61%).

REF 3 – This is based on the Department of Health’s guidance for front of pack nutrition labelling

REF 4 - Within a healthy, balanced diet, an adult female needs around 2000kcal a day to maintain her weight.

REF 5 – Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day

REF 6 – Marks & Spencer's Taramasalata contains 1.5g salt per 100g. Ritz original crackers contain 0.048g salt per cracker; 31 crackers equates to 1.49g salt.

REF 7 – KP Original Salted Peanuts contain 1.3g salt per 100g 18 dip products out of 210 surveyed (with salt information per 100g available) contain 1.3g per 100g or more of salt.

REF 8 – As part of a healthy, balanced diet, an adult’s Reference Intake for saturated fat is 20g  

REF 9 – Waitrose cheese and chive dip contains 31.3g fat per 57.5g portion. In comparison, a McDonald’s Big Mac contains 25g of fat  

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