| 17.1°C Belfast

Salt warning over children's meals

Children's meals at some of the UK's leading pub and fast food chains contain more salt than they should eat in an entire day, a study has found.

Lunches containing more than the child's recommended 4g of salt were found at popular family restaurants including Wetherspoons, Harvester and Nando's, said Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash).

Nando's and Wetherspoons both had children's meals containing three times as much salt as a McDonald's Happy Meal of a hamburger and fries.

A Nandino's (Nando's) veggie burger with creamy mash contained 5.3g of salt, a Wetherspoons Wiltshire cured ham and cheese sandwich with chips had 4.8g, while a Harvester gammon and chicken combo with mashed potato and beans contained 4.3g.

A Sizzling Pub 4oz gammon with mash and beans contained 4.1g salt and another Wetherspoons meal, chicken breast nuggets with chips and baked beans, held 4g.

The survey found significant variations in the amount of salt in meals, even at the same restaurants, but found it was impossible for parents to make healthy choices because of a lack of nutritional information on menus.

Wetherspoons also offered an Annabel Karmel spaghetti bolognese containing just 0.1g of salt, while Sizzling Pub had a chicken breast with jacket potato and peas with 0.8g.

Other low-salt options included McDonald's four-piece chicken nuggets and fruit bag, containing 0.4g of salt, Wimpy fish bites with salad (0.5g), Hungry Horse fish fingers and jacket potato with peas, corn or salad (0.73g), and a Kentucky Fried Chicken popcorn chicken with corn cobette (0.78g).

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "We take on board the findings of the report. We aim to provide a range of children's meals and these feature varying salt levels. We are reviewing how we can reduce the salt levels on the two meals indicated."

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott said: "This should be a wake-up call for Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, particularly in terms of his discredited responsibility deals, but also for British parents. We have got to start empowering families, not making it harder for them."

PA