Monday 21 May 2018

Chinese takeaways contain five times more salt than a Big Mac - the worst dish revealed

A McDonald's Big Mac contains just 2.3g of salt, which is around a third of the recommended healthy limit.
A McDonald's Big Mac contains just 2.3g of salt, which is around a third of the recommended healthy limit.

Katie Morley

Chinese food should come with a health warning, campaigners warn today as research shows some dishes contain five times more salt than a Big Mac.

Beef with black bean sauce is the worst offender, analysis of London Chinatown takeaway menus showed, with more than six grams of salt per serving, equivalent to an adult's total recommended daily allowance.

When served with egg fried rice, which also contains up to five grams of salt per portion, the total salt content rises to 11.5g, or twice the recommended daily limit.

By contrast a McDonald's Big Mac contains just 2.3g of salt, which is still around a third of the recommended healthy limit.

The report, by campaign group Action on Salt, contained good news for fans of sweet and sour chicken, which was found to be the least salty dish, with around 2.3g of salt per portion.

Eating too much salt has been linked to degenerative health conditions including heart disease. In a bid to combat over-consumption the Government has set salt reduction targets for food producers, however they will not stretch to small takeaways.

The research also looked at supermarket ready meals and found that the saltiest Chinese dish was Slimming World’s Chinese Style Banquet Rice, which contained 4.4g of salt per pack.

It also advised consumers to exercise caution when adding soy sauce to meals, as it is over five times saltier than seawater.

In 2016, Public Health England assumed responsibility for the UK's salt reduction targets, but since then Action on Salt claims there has been "little action". It has not yet published a progress report on whether the last set of salt targets,due to be met by the end of 2017, have been reached, or any plans to set new targets.

According to the campaign group every 1g reduction in salt intake prevents 7,000 deaths, 4,000 of which are premature, from strokes and heart disease.

Sarah Alderton, assistant nutritionist at Action on Salt, said: “Considering how many millions of takeaways and ready meals are eaten in the UK each week, the food industry must be held to account, with new salt targets set by the government to ensure the salt content of these meals is reduced to much lower levels, and fast. If the food industry don’t comply, they should be made mandatory.”

Dr Alison Tedstone, Public Health England’s chief nutritionist, said: “Our salt consumption has decreased over the last decade - a loaf of bread has forty per cent less than it used to. However, some products are still too high in salt and we know this can be reduced further.

“We’ve been very clear with the food industry on the importance of meeting the 2017 salt targets. We’ll report on their progress this year and on any necessary advice to government on the next steps.”

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 Public Health England to take immediate action.”

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