Takeaway health: Chinese food ‘should come with HEALTH WARNING over salt levels’


Some Chinese takeaway dishes contain the same amount of salt as five Big Macs

New analysis has revealed shocking levels of the killer condiment in takeaways and ready meals, with some of Britain’s saltiest dishes containing the same amount found in five Big Macs.

Action on Salt, which carried out the investigation, has called on health chiefs to set tough new targets, make warning labels mandatory and slap hazard signs on restaurant menus.

Takeaways bought from six independent restaurants in London’s famous Chinatown revealed 97 per cent contained 2g of salt or more per dish.

More than half contained more than 3g of salt per dish – half the maximum recommended daily intake in one portion alone.


97% of takeaways bought in London’s Chinatown district contain 2g of salt or more per dish

Our data shows food can be easily reformulated with lower levels of salt, so why haven’t all companies acted responsibly?

Sonia Pombo

The saltiest takeaway main with a rice/noodle side dish contained 11.50g salt, equal to five Big Macs, and getting near to the acute toxic levels of salt.

In the supermarket the saltiest Chinese ready meal was Slimming World’s Chinese Style Banquet Rice with 4.40g salt per 550g pack – more salt than two store-bought Pizza Express margherita pizzas.

Incredibly, some dishes contain more salt than 11 bags ready salted crisps.

Of the 141 ready meals surveyed 43 per cent were high in salt [containing more than 1.5g/100g or 1.8g per portion] and would receive a red warning label on the front of the pack.


High salt intake can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of strokes

Sonia Pombo, of Action on Salt, said: “Our data shows food can be easily reformulated with lower levels of salt, so why haven’t all companies acted responsibly?

The lack of front-of-pack colour coded labelling on branded products makes it incredibly difficult for consumers to make healthier choices and that is simply unacceptable.”

The campaign group last night demanded Public Health England [PHE] takes immediate action.

They say that every 1g reduction in salt intake prevents 7,000 deaths, 4,000 of which are premature, from strokes and heart disease.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “The researchers are right.

All packaged, processed food should have easily read, traffic light warning labels if they approach injurious salt, fat or sugar levels. For food regulators not to insist on this is sheer stupidity.”

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Salt is the forgotten killer as it puts up our blood pressure, leading to tens of thousands of unnecessary strokes, heart failure and heart attacks every year.

Reducing salt is the most cost effective measure to reduce the number of people dying or suffering from strokes or heart disease. We are now calling on PHE to take immediate action.”

The research comes just a week after millions of healthy eaters were warned they are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke because of high salt consumption.

Adults should have no more than 6g – around one teaspoon – of salt each day but disturbing new research suggests most people have almost double this without even realising.

The danger lurks in everyday foods like bread, breakfast cereals, cakes, biscuits and cheese.

Too much salt leads to high blood pressure, which means people are three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.

High blood pressure now affects more than one in four adults in Britain and is caused by age, weight and too much salt.

Dr Alison Tedstone, Public Health England’s chief nutritionist, said: “Our salt consumption has decreased over the last decade – a loaf of bread has 40 per cent less than it used to.

However, some products are still too high in salt and we know this can be reduced further.”

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