Some high street restaurant meals are providing diners with twice their recommended daily allowance of salt, despite health warnings from the Food Standards Agency.
Sixteen high street restaurant chains’ dishes were checked in a joint effort between Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) and Trading Standards to mark the beginning of National Salt Awareness Week (2-8 February).
Over a third of the restaurants investigated were found to serve meals containing more than 6g of salt, an adult’s RDA, with Old Orleans’ Chicken Fajitas the worst offender, containing 8.8g of salt per serving.
Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of CASH, was angered at the discoveries. “It simply beggars belief that almost five years after the Food Standards Agency launched its salt reduction programme, and with all the publicity there has been about the 6g a day target, some high street restaurants have done nothing to reduce the amount of salt they add to their meals,” he said. “If they had even considered this issue then we wouldn’t be finding meals containing more than a day’s salt limit in a single course.”
While Old Orleans was also found to serve Chicken Wings and Ribs that contained 7.6g of salt per serving, many other high street establishments were found to serve dishes that exceeded the RDA, with Pizza Express’s American Hot pizza containing 7.5g, and Wagamama’s Ramen containing 7.2g.
Carrie Bolt, CASH nutritionist said: “Our worry is that people eating some of the higher salt meals we found, will have no way of knowing how much salt is in their meal or that they have exceeded their daily salt limit, as there is no information available to them in the restaurants. We would much rather that restaurants gave their customers the choice when it comes to salt in their meals – add less during the cooking stage and let people add more at the table if they want to.”
In July, the Food Standards Agency called for caterers to reduce the level of salt in their dishes, considering the average person ate one in every six meals out of home. High levels of salt in a person’s diet can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and even strokes, but despite a large drop in the average British person’s daily intake in the last nine years, the national average currently stands at 8.6g per day.