Healthy living

Takeaway soups contain more salt than crisps

Zone default image Many not a healthy snack

If you think you're "being healthy" by having soup instead of a packet of crisps as a snack, then you may be in for a shock. New research has found that many ready-made soups contain more salt than an adult is recommended to eat in a full day.

The charity Consensus Action on Salt and Health surveyed 575 ready to eat soups from high street chains Eat, Caffe Nero and Pret A Manger, as well as branded and supermarket own-label products.

They found that 99% of the soups surveyed contained more salt per portion than a packet of crisps, a quarter individually still fail to meet the 2010 Food Standards Agency average voluntary targets for salt content, and only 6% could be labelled "green" based on the traffic light labelling system.

The highest average levels of salt were found in the high street café takeaway soups.

"Astoundingly high" salt levels were found in some soups from EAT, with 10 of their products containing more salt than the current daily maximum recommendation of 6g salt per day.

Eat's Very Big Soup Bold Thai Green Chicken Curry, contained 8.070g salt per 32 oz/907g portion, the same amount of salt as nearly three Big Mac and Fries.

Even the Bold Green Chicken Curry soup in the smallest size (12oz /340 g) contained 2.815g salt/portion, nearly half of the daily recommendation and still more than a Big Mac and Fries.

Cafe Nero's standard sized Organic Carrot & Coriander soup contained 3.6g of salt per portion, over three and a half times more salty than the lowest café takeaway soup, a Malaysian Chicken Soup from Pret A Manger at 1.0g per portion.

Among the fresh soups available in supermarkets, the highest product contained as much salt as nearly five packets of crisps.

New Covent Garden Scotch Broth contained 2.4g salt/300g portion, six times more salt than Tideford Organics Moroccan Vegetable (0.44g/300g portion), which contained the lowest amount of salt.

Although the charity found that 93% of supermarket own-label products met the FSA 2010 targets, only 66% of branded products managed to do this.

CASH nutritionist Katharine Jenner said: “People tend to think salt is only in crisps, snack and ready meals.

“But this survey shows huge amounts of salt can be hidden in seemingly healthy choices such as soup.

While there are still soups being manufactured with really high levels of hidden salt, it is hard for us to cut down our salt intake to less than 6g of salt a day from the current average of 8.6g a day. We urge manufacturers to reduce their salt content immediately.”

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of CASH, added: “It is the very high levels of salt that are put in our food that leads to thousands of unnecessary stroke and heart deaths.

"Furthermore there is increasing evidence that salt intake is linked to stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and kidney stones and kidney disease.”

This article was published on Thu 25 February 2010

Image © Chien Lee -

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