Warning over salad salt content
Restaurants, cafes and supermarkets are still adding large amounts of salt to what appear to be healthy salads, a survey has found.
A study of 650 ready-to-eat salads found 77% contained more salt than a packet of crisps, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) said.
A McDonald's crispy chicken and bacon salad had more salt than a McDonald's hamburger at 1.3g compared with 1.2g, while the Pizza Express grand chicken Caesar salad contained 5.3g of salt and its warm vegetable and goat's cheese salad contained 5g.
Current guidelines recommend adults consume no more than 6g of salt a day.
Wagamama's lobster super salad contained 4.5g of salt and Nando's Mediterranean salad with chicken breast contained 4g.
The survey did find that the average salt content in supermarket salads has reduced by 35% since Cash conducted a similar study in 2010.
But this year's study still found that the Morrisons chicken and bacon pasta salad contained 2.8g in a 290g serving and Marks & Spencer's bacon and sweetcorn pasta salad contained 2.5g salt in a 380g serving.
Cash nutritionist Sonia Pombo said: "Say the word 'salad' and you tend to imagine a bowl of healthy stuff nestled amongst some leaves, but that's not accurate.
"Whilst salad itself is both healthy and tasty, food manufacturers and restaurants continue to add unnecessary salt to the dish, which not only alters the taste and makes you feel bloated but, more seriously, can lead to high blood pressure - the main cause of strokes and heart attacks."
Graham MacGregor, Cash chairman and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London, said: "It is nonsensical that something as seemingly healthy as a salad should contain an ingredient that is proven to be harmful to your health.
"Whilst we congratulate the responsible manufacturers that have gradually reduced the salt in their products, we urge all manufacturers to sign up to the Department of Health's 2017 salt pledge and to cut the salt in their dishes now.
"Many salads are deceptively high in salt, and the very large variation of salt content shows that the highest ones can easily be reduced. The food industry needs to show much greater responsibility for its customers' health."
British Heart Foundation senior dietician Victoria Taylor said: "It's not unreasonable to think that if you pick a salad it's going to be a healthy choice. But this survey shows in some cases what you see might not always be what you get.
"A colourful salad full of vegetables may look like a healthy way towards your five-a-day but what you can't see is the salt content which, in some cases, could amount to almost a whole day's worth in one portion.
"It's good to see progress is being made to drive down our salt intake, but there's still work to be done. That's why clear, colour-coded labelling on food packaging is so important to help people make more positive, informed choices about what they eat."