Page last updated at 02:46 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Warning over salt in pasta sauces

Too much salt is linked to health problems

Salt levels in some pasta sauces are too high and variations in content make buying healthy options "incredibly hard", a pressure group has said.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health surveyed 190 types of sauces.

It said that, on average, leading brands contained 25% more salt than supermarket own-brand options.

Chef Jamie Oliver's Spicy Olive and Garlic sauce contained the most salt, at 3g per 100g. His spokesman said they were working on new lower salt recipes.

Information 'missing'

Government health advisers warn that high salt consumption raises blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. The Food Standards Agency's recommended daily intake is 6g.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) wants to see a reduction in its use in processed foods.

We urge manufacturers to reduce their salt content and improve their labelling immediately
Katharine Jenner, CASH nutritionist

The group's research revealed inconsistencies in the labelling and suggested portion sizes of sauces and that in some cases the information was missing completely.

Some 73 of the products gave no salt or sodium data per portion, while 22 failed to meet the FSA's target of containing no more than 1.1g of salt per 100g.

Cash nutritionist Katharine Jenner said: "Pasta with sauce is a quick and simple meal for many of us but this survey shows it can be incredibly hard to choose a healthy option.

"There are still some sauces on the shelves with really high levels of hidden salt. We urge manufacturers to reduce their salt content and improve their labelling immediately."

Tomato-based sauces and those containing olives and bacon tended to be most salty, whereas versions with chilli or basil were more likely to be lower.

The survey highlighted Weight Watchers' Roasted Garlic sauce, with 0.1g of salt per 100g, Co-operative Arrabiata Pasta Sauce Fresh (0.25g) and Sainsbury's Spicy Tomato Sauce Fresh (0.28g) as being among those with the lowest content.

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