Some sauces ‘10 times as salty as seawater’, report warns

Just one tablespoon of some soy sauce products accounts for 50 per cent of an adult’s recommended salt intake – the equivalent of six packets of ready salted crisps, a report has warned.

Action on salt says one teaspoon of soy sauce is half of adult's daily allowance.
Action on salt says one teaspoon of soy sauce is half of adult's daily allowance.

More than one in two pre-prepared sauces are found to be high in salt and would receive a red label on front of the pack, according to the study by Action on Salt.

Across the different sauces, variation in salt content was evident, with some brands containing a fraction of the amount of salt as their competitors, which the campaign group said showd that reducing salt is possible with no technological implications.

It found that the sodium content of Blue Dragon Fish Sauce is more than 10 times the concentration of seawater.

The study also found that, when it comes to lower-salt varieties, many products are not always readily available in supermarkets, meaning customers are not given enough options to choose from. Without front-of-pack labelling, consumers are even less able to tell at a glance which ones are lower in salt.

Zoe Davies, a nutritionist at Action on Salt, said: “Many of us love to cook and make our food taste good. However, using lots of these salty sauces and marinades could be compromising our health as many of us are still eating more salt than the recommended limit of 6g – one teaspoon – per day.

“There are much healthier and tasty alternatives available. Always read the label, or use free apps such as FoodSwitch 7, which allows customers to scan the barcodes of their shopping to see the ‘traffic light colours’ and make a healthier choice.” Salt reduction targets were last set UK-wide in 2014 for 2017.

Where products do have salt targets set by Government, more than a third exceed their respective maximum target, the report found, despite these targets needing to be met by 2017.

Action on Salt called on the Government to deliver a “detailed and robust” salt reduction programme for 2020. It said that mandatory front-of-pack colour coded labelling across all food and drink was also an “urgent necessity”.

These findings coincide with a study published today in the BMJ Open 9 which analysed the salt content of sauces in the UK and China.

Monique Tan, lead author, said: “We saw an overall decline in the salt content of sauces sold in the UK over the past 10 years, with the exception of the period between 2013 and 2015, where salt levels plateaued or even increased. This is most likely the knock-on effect of the Responsibility Deal, introduced in 2011, where the responsibility for improving nutrition was taken away from the Foods Standards Agency and entrusted to the food industry.”