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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 July, 2004, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Popular foods 'loaded with salt'
Salt content of pizzas varied widely
Some popular brands of pizza and baked beans are loaded with unhealthy levels of salt, a survey by the Food Standards Agency has found.

It found salt levels varied widely between brands.

A number of popular products had more than half the amount of salt recommended for adults to consume in a whole day.

High salt consumption is linked to a range of health problems including stroke and heart disease.

Salt content: worst offenders
Dr Oetker Crisp Fine Base Speciale Pizza - 4.4g/200g
Tesco's Stonebaked Pepperoni Pizza - 4.1g/200g
Morrisons/Budgens/Somerfield Baked Beans - 3.2g/210g
Asda Spaghetti and Spaghetti Loops - 3.7g/210g
Co-op Spaghetti - 3.7g/210g
One children's pizza was found to contain almost three times as much salt as a rival brand, while some standard tins of baked beans had two-thirds the salt of other comparable tins.

Some manufacturers have reduced the salt levels in their products since these surveys were carried out.

But the FSA says levels still need to fall across the full range of processed food for people to reduce their salt consumption to the recommended maximum level of 6 grams a day by 2010.

On average, adults are currently consuming about 9.5g a day.

Hidden salt

Salt content: healthier options
Tesco Stonebaked Barbecue Chicken Pizza - 2.4g/200g
Dominos Original Cheese and Tomato Pizza - 2.4g/200g
Co-op/Waitrose/Heinz Baked Beans - 2.1g/210g
Heinz Spaghetti Hoops - 1.6g/210g
At present, 75% of our daily salt intake comes from salt hidden in products such as these, and not from salt that we add ourselves.

Sir John Krebs, FSA chair, said: "Foods such as baked beans, spaghetti and pizza are products that families rely on.

"The fact that the salt in one can of baked beans, or a pizza, can vary so dramatically indicates that manufacturers can reduce the amount of salt they add to these products.

"The Food Standards Agency wants to see more substantial reductions in salt in food products."

Professor Graham MacGregor, chair of pressure group Consensus Action on Salt and Health, said: "This research dramatically illustrates the fact that the food industry can produce food with much lower salt content.

"Why are they not doing do?"

Supermarket reaction

Supermarket chain Morrisons said: "We are actively looking at ways to reduce the levels of salt in our products and have done so in certain areas."

Somerfield said in a statement it was committed to reducing salt content in its own-label products.

"For new products we have set the target of no more than 3g salt per serving and for existing products that are being re-developed, there must be at least a 10% reduction in salt."

The British Retail Consortium issued a statement which said the FSA's survey was based on data from January and may not take into account any recent changes.

"Retailers are already committed to a five year salt reduction plan that will specifically cut salt in nine food groups, including pizzas and baked beans.

"It is hardly surprising to find a wide range of different products offered by retailers.

"It would be ridiculous for any organisation to criticise clearly labelled products that offer customers a wide range of eating options."

Food giants hit back in salt row
17 Jun 04  |  Health
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06 May 04  |  Health
Less salt 'would save thousands'
12 Dec 03  |  Health

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