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Survey exposes high level of salt in sausages
Published:  07 December, 2017

New research by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has shown that several branded British sausages contain “excessively high amounts” of salt. 

The survey was conducted using CASH’s FoodSwitch UK app and revealed that the average salt content of sausages sold today is 1.3g/100g. 

According to the NHS, adults should eat no more than 6g of salt per day, or the equivalent to one teaspoon. 

Public Health England (PHE) set out voluntarily guidelines for the industry, in which it set a 2017 target of 1.38g of salt, or 550mg sodium range average. 

Subsequent to the results, CASH is now calling on PHE to be more proactive in ensuring that the industry responds to recommendations. 

Professor Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, where CASH is based, said that PHE must now do more to reinforce these guidelines.

“The UK has led the world on salt reduction, but this survey clearly shows that many companies are not cooperating with the current voluntary policy,” said MacGregor, who is also chairman of CASH.

“Public Health England, which is now responsible, must get tough on those companies not complying and set new mandatory targets to be achieved by 2020 without further delay. Otherwise, thousands of people will die from unnecessary strokes and heart attacks every year. Salt reduction is the most cost-effective and most successful public health preventive measure made to date, and it is a national tragedy that is being allowed to fail.”

Mhairi Brown, assistant nutritionist at CASH, added: “This survey really exposes how dangerously salty most sausages are, as children could be eating at least 2g of salt from a meal that contains just two sausages! Eating too much in childhood increases our blood pressure, which then tracks into adulthood and is the main cause of strokes and heart disease. The food industry must do more to reduce salt in family-favourite foods, and help protect our health.”

The worst offender in CASH’s survey was Richmond, with its full range of sausages topping all other manufacturers. Per 100g of sausage, the firm’s 12 skinless Pork Sausages contained 2.3g of salt per 100g of sausage, while its 8 Thick Pork Sausages contained 2.2g/100g.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Co-operative’s Irresistible 6 Sweet Chilli Sausages contained just 0.75g per 100g of sausage.

Asda was featured on both lists, with its Extra Special 6 Bacon & Maple Syrup Pork Sausages containing 2.1g/100g. Conversely, its Extra Special 6 Lincolnshire Pork Sausages and Butcher’s Selection 12 British Pork Sausages contained 0.83g/100g and 1g/100g respectively.

“So far we have seen very little evidence that the latest set of voluntary salt targets have been achieved, despite the impending [PHE salt target] deadline this month,” said Sonia Pombo, nutritionist and campaign manager at CASH.

“Therefore strict monitoring and tougher regulation from the government must be implemented. Based on the latest recommendations from SACN [Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition], supporting the use of potassium-based salt replacers as a potential way to help reduce sodium in food, the government should now encourage companies to explore the use of potassium (a mineral found naturally in fruit, vegetables and other foods) in sausages and help reduce the nation’s blood pressure.” 

“Our range of sausages is compliant with the government’s salt guidelines, but our customers probably won’t be surprised to discover that our bacon and maple syrup sausages have a slightly higher salt content than average,” said a spokesperson for Asda. “However, we’re pleased that the report also shows that we also offer two of the least salty sausages in this study.”

Debbie Keeble, co-founder of Heck, explained that it was a priority for the business to find alternatives to salt. “Our focus has been on lowering fat content without compromising taste, but we have now turned our attention to salt and you will see this reducing over time to meet government guidelines, as we replace our packaging,” said Keeble.

“We have been exploring other ways to take out the salt, such as using miso, but have decided against using it in our sausages as it is an allergen.”

Meanwhile, Iceland defended its Iceland 8 Jumbo Pork Sausages, which contain 1.6g of salt per 100g of sausage. The retailer said: “Iceland 8 Jumbo Pork Sausages are clearly marketed via the product packaging as a single-serve sausage in a bun. It is the length of two standard Iceland sausages. It is disappointing to compare this jumbo size of pork sausage against other considerably smaller products in the marketplace. Iceland cooked nutrition information is declared on product packaging, rather than raw, to provide more meaningful information for our customers.”