A campaign group says a cup of hot chocolate can have more salt than a packet of ready salted crisps. Consensus Action on Salt and Health found salt targets were exceeded in all but one category of packaged food. Mars Chocolate said the drink was an “indulgent treat” but Public Health England said there was a need of more work. Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate powder had just over 0.6g of salt per 25g serving or 2.5g per 100g. The confectionery company said some of the salt came from the intrinsic sodium in milk and other ingredients and some were added: “to enhance the chocolaty flavor”. She said the company worked continuously to improve products’ nutritional profile.
The Cash researchers looked at various food products and found only bread rolls had met PHE’s voluntary targets. The survey made by the group compares two shopping baskets, each containing similar food items but with different amounts of salt, using the FoodSwitch UK app. The free smartphone app lets users scan the barcode of packaged drinks and food to receive “traffic light” colour-coded nutritional information along with suggested similar, healthier products. The scientists and researchers found the difference in salt content between the “healthy” and “unhealthy” baskets of products was 57g of salt. It is suggested that adults eat no more than 6g of salt a day about one teaspoon and children should eat less.
Cash, based at Queen Mary University of London, also found that:
Aldi The Fishmonger Piri Piri Smoked Mackerel Fillets (3.8g salt per 100g serving) had four times more salt (per 100g) than the extremum salt target of 0.95g for fish-based meals
Baxters Chef Selections Cullen Skink (1.1g salt per 100g) had more than 1.5 times salt (per 100g) than the extremum salt target for soup of 0.63g per 100g
Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate (2.5g of salt per 100g) had 16 times more salt than the extremum salt target for dried beverages of 0.15g per 100g
A standard 32.5g packet of Walkers Ready Salted Crisps contains 0.46g of salt. The Department of Health first set the voluntary salt reducing targets, which vary according to the category, in 2006. These were last revised in 2014, with the aim that they would be met by the end of 2017. The government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal contains 28 main categories of food, including beverages, canned fish, canned vegetables and processed puddings, that were tested by Cash.