The sample of 30 ready meals bought from local retailers found that 19 contained high salt levels (more than 1.5g per 100g), nine contained medium levels (between 0.3g and 1.5g) and two low levels (less than 0.3g).
Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team found that five of the meals did not display accurate labels, with two containing almost double the amount of salt described. The results have been released during national Salt Awareness Week.
New revised UK-wide salt reduction targets for 2017 have been published for 76 categories of foods. Salt levels in many foods covered by previous targets have reduced significantly, some by 40-50% or more. More than 11 million kilograms of salt have already been removed from foods.
Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards leader Gill Heath said, “We all need to think about our salt intake as people on average eat too much. It’s no surprise that ready meals typically contain higher levels of salt, but food manufacturers must label their food accurately.
“Our trading standards team will now be providing detailed guidance and support to retailers to ensure the labels are amended and accurate. Salt Awareness Week gives us an opportunity to remind people of recommended intake and to check food labelling. Most of us enjoy ready meals from time to time and can continue to do so as part of a balanced diet. We just want to see people given accurate information so they can make an informed choice.”
Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure, so it’s in everyone’s interest to think about their intake. One in three UK adults has high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease or strokes. It’s recommended that adults eat no more than 6g of salt a day – around one teaspoon. Children should eat less. Adults actually need less than 1g per day; however, average UK salt consumption remains high at approximately 8g a day. Three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.