Salt levels in ready-made salads put customers health ‘in jeopardy’

Salt has increased by 13 per cent in just four years.
Salt has increased by 13 per cent in just four years.
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The amount of salt in ready to eat salads is increasing and could be damaging consumers’s health, a study has revealed.

Campaign group Action on Salt found that the salt content of salads bought from restaurants, coffee shops and fast food outlets has increased by 13 per cent since they were last surveyed in 2014.

The probe found that Pizza Express Grand Chicken Caesar Salad with Dough Sticks contains 5.3g salt per serving – more than their Classic Margherita Pizza and only 0.7g under an adult’s entire daily recommended salt intake.

More than a third of the 213 restaurants, sandwich and coffee shop chains and fast food salads surveyed contained 2g of salt or more per salad.

Sarah Alderton of Action on Salt said: “Salads are typically considered to be a healthy option, but restaurants and retailers are continuing to add unnecessarily high amounts of salt and saturated fat to their salads and putting the health of their customers in jeopardy.”

The study said that although nutrition information was available at the majority of the restaurant and fast food chains included in the survey – either on pack, on the shelf label or at the counter on request – only cafe brand Costa provided full colour-coded nutrition information.

Without this information readily available at their disposal, consumers struggle to know which options contain the least amount of salt, making it impossible to make an informed decision.

Ms Alderton added: “We want the food industry to be transparent by displaying clear, colour-coded nutrition information on front of pack or at the point of sale, to help consumers make a more informed decision wherever they choose to eat.”

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Salt, said: “It’s 
shocking to see that certain restaurants and supermarkets have failed to take responsibility to reduce salt – especially after our 2014 survey exposed their dangerously salty salads.”

Action on Salt also surveyed all ready-to-eat salads from retailers, including pasta, rice, couscous, noodle and salads made from other grains from the deli and ‘food to go’ sections.

Over the last four years, the average salt content of retail salads has remained relatively unchanged.

Pizza Express said: “At PizzaExpress, we pride ourselves in creating a range of delicious and nutritious dishes to suit every diet. Our Grand Caesar salad includes high quality, delicious ingredients such as white anchovies and traditional Gran Milano cheese, which are, by nature, higher in salt. Dishes can be adapted to suit our customer’s preference, with certain ingredients omitted, or dressing served ‘on the side’. We also offer our customers a range of pizza and salad choices with lower salt content such as our Leggera Superfood salad and continue to listen to our customers feedback as part of our ongoing recipe development.”