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People urged to check salt levels after Staffordshire food survey

Eating a BLT with crisps at lunch would exceed a person’s daily recommended salt intake in just one meal, Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team has warned after a sampling exercise.

People are being urged to consider their salt intake and check food packaging where possible after varieties of lunchtime takeaway food were found to have high levels in the majority of samples. The results have been released during national Salt Awareness Week.

The team looked at lunchtime takeaway meals which typically don’t display nutritional information. Of ten samples, eight were found to have high levels of salt. Among the worst offenders were the bacon, lettuce and tomato and crisps combination which contains 112 per cent of a person’s recommended daily intake, jacket potato with mince and onions (74 per cent) and sausage and egg sandwich (67 per cent).

Revised UK-wide salt reduction targets for 2017 have been published for 76 categories of foods. Salt levels in many foods covered by previous targets have reduced significantly; some by 40-50% or more. More than 11 million kilograms of salt have already been removed from foods.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said:

We all need to think about our salt intake as people on average eat too much. People may be unaware that the foods they eat contain high quantities of salt and so we’re trying to raise awareness through sample exercises like this. This year, the team has focused on typical lunchtime takeaways, where nutritional information is often not given. Most packaged food now does label salt levels. Salt Awareness Week gives us an opportunity to remind people of recommended intake, to check food labelling or think about the types of food they’re eating. Most of us enjoy the types of foods sampled from time to time and can continue to do so as part of a balanced diet. We just want to see people given accurate information so they can make an informed choice.”

Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure, so it’s in everyone’s interest to think about their intake. One in three UK adults has high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease or strokes. It’s recommended that adults eat no more than 6g of salt a day – around one teaspoon. Children should eat less. Adults actually need less than 1g per day; however average UK salt consumption remains high at approximately 8g a day. Three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.