A typical picnic basket of summer snacks can contain “huge” amounts of salt and saturated fat, health campaigners have warned.
One in four savoury picnic foods are “dangerously high” in salt but almost one in three have no colour-coded front-of-pack labelling, making it difficult for consumers to make healthy choices, Action on Salt (AoS) said.
The group is calling for immediate, compulsory nutritional labelling on all picnic savouries after a survey found a typical picnic could contain more than 5g of salt.
Researchers based at Queen Mary University of London analysed 555 savoury picnic finger foods available from retailers.
Although noting that it was not surprising that olives were salty, AoS found that Aldi’s Specially Selected Hand Stuffed Halkidiki Olives (150g) contained 5g of salt per 100g – double the salt concentration of seawater, while an adult’s suggested portion contained a third of the recommended daily limit – 6g a day, or a level teaspoon.
A Ginsters Cornish Pasty (272g) contained 2.99g of salt per portion, equivalent to seven portions of salted peanuts, Aldi’s Eat & Go Sausages & Ketchup contained 2.2g per portion, as much salt as four and a half bags of ready salted crisps, and Fry’s Spicy Three Bean Pasty contained 1.8g per portion, the same amount as a McDonald’s hamburger and fries.
The study also found the saltiest sausage roll was Fry’s Sausage Roll, a vegan brand with 1.8g salt per 100g.
Scotch eggs, with an average salt content of 0.76g per 100g, and quiche, with an average salt content of 0.54g per 100g, were the lowest salt categories.
Almost half of the products surveyed were “worryingly high” in saturated fat.
Morrisons Cheese & Onion Slices (330g) contain 17.7g of saturated fat per portion, almost meeting a woman’s recommended daily limit.
Asda’s Extra Special Maple Cured Smoked Bacon Quiche Lorraine with Butter Enriched Shortcrust Pastry (410g) contained 11g of saturated fat per 100g or 14g per portion, almost as much as in five McDonald’s hamburgers.
Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of AoS, said: “Due to inaction by the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England in enforcing the 2017 salt reduction targets, the public are still eating more salt than recommended which is leading to thousands dying or suffering from entirely unnecessary strokes and heart disease.
“Reducing salt is one of the most cost-effective measures to protect health. The time has come for the Secretary of State for Health to resuscitate the UK’s salt reduction programme, helping us to, once again, be world leading rather than trailing behind the rest of the world. The public’s health has suffered long enough.”