Too much salt in finger foods, Action on Salt analysis

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Too much salt in finger foods. Analyses conducted by
Action on Salt
– the expert group that has been advocating for food reformulation for years-show that 1 in 4 products contain very high levels of sodium. A dangerous situation, according to the organization, which calls for nutritional information on these foods even where provided in cafeterias.

Too much salt in finger foods, tests on 555 products

The panel of experts based at Queen Mary University of London analyzed the nutritional profile of 555 finger foods, or ‘picnic foods,’ sold in Britain. Olives, savory pastries, pies, ready-to-eat foods, and other snacks(Ready-To-Eat food). Also in vegetarian and vegan versions. The result is alarming given the serious health harms associated with excessive salt consumption. Cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, the leading causes of premature mortality in the world, but also cancer and diabetes.

One in 4 samples contains very high amounts of salt, reports Action on Salt. These are levels that would be marked in red on a syntheticfront-of-pack nutrition label(front-of-pack food labeling, FOPL), such as the Nutri-Score. However, another problem, the test also shows that 1 in 3 snacks lacks such labeling. An information vacuum that prevents consumers from making informed choices about what to buy. Not surprisingly, 40 percent of unlabeled snacks analyzed by the British group are excessively salty.

Too much salt, the missed targets

A salt concentration of 5 percent-twice as high as seawater-distinguishes some types of olives. More broadly, half of the products analyzed by Action on Salt contain far more salt than the salt in the English ministerial recommendations set out in 2014 ahead of 2017. A real failure, notes the organization, which calls on health institutions to put more pressure on the food industry.

New targets for reducing salt in food will be set in 2020, according to the prevention green paper published in July 2019 by the UK Department of Health. In the meantime, Action on Salt is calling for mandatory nutrition labeling for all food products, including picnic foods.

Too much salt in finger foods. Vegans on the stand

Vegan consumers should pay special attention to salt. Indeed, the test shows that most meat alternatives, in standing out positively on the saturated fat front, have higher sodium contents. One example out of all, the ‘vegan sausage’ Fry roll, 1.8 g of salt per 100 grams.

Excess sodium in vegan foods had already been extensively documented by GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade) in 2017 through a market survey of more than 130 ready-to-eat vegan and vegetarian foods sold in Italy. With the paradox that some products have such a high salt/sodium content that they reach the recommended daily threshold in only one serving or so.

Notes

(1) SEE http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/salt-surveys/2019/savoury-finger-food-survey/

Marta Strinati

Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".