03:42pm Thursday 05 December 2019

Dangerous levels of salt in your family’s favourite sausages

  • One in three (33 per cent) products fail to meet the 2010 salt targets and four in five (80 per cent) don’t yet meet the Department of Health’s 2012 target.
  • Meeting the 2012 targets would remove 500 tonnes of salt from the diet – the equivalent of 76 elephants!
  • Only seven out of 246 meat sausages contain less salt than a packet of crisps.

The survey of 300 sausages showed that many are still shockingly high in salt.  Having just two of the highest salt sausages could unexpectedly result in you eating 3g of salt – half your maximum daily recommendation of 6g. New research carried out by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) looked at fresh and frozen meat, chipolata and vegetarian sausages and identified that unnecessary salt is still being hidden in leading brand sausages.

The five highest salt popular sausages per 100g:

  • Richmond Skinless Sausages (fresh & frozen) 2.3g/100g
  • Richmond Thick Sausages (fresh & frozen) 2.2g/100g
  • Richmond Thin Sausages 2.2g/100g
  • Sainsbury’s Butchers Choice Large Pork Sausages 2.12g/100g
  • Iceland 8 Thick Pork Sausages 2.0g/100g

You may expect the more expensive sausages to have fared better, however CASH found that despite a nine fold difference in the price of sausages (per 100g), there was no notable difference in the salt content of economy versus standard or premium supermarket ranges. In fact, sausages from specialist stores were the worst offenders, with Musk’s Newmarket Sausages containing 1.6g each and Royal Berkshire Free Range Traditional Pork Sausages containing 1.5g each.  Having two of these sausages would result in you eating 3g of salt, half your daily maximum.

The research found huge differences between similar flavoured premium sausages, with Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Chilli & Coriander Pork Sausages containing 1.53g salt per 100g, a massive 53 per cent more salt than Tesco Finest/ The Co-operative Truly Irresistible British Pork & Sweet Chilli Sausages, which contain 1.0g per 100g.

Surprisingly, celebrity chefs are actually making better progress, both Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal offer tasty products which already meet the 2012 salt targets:

  • Jamie Oliver Beautiful Coarse-textured Italian Style Sausages (1.1g per 100g)
  • Heston Blumenthal Boerewors sausages (1.00g per 100g)

“Sausages are such a British favourite at mealtimes, that they are the third largest contributor of salt in the UK diet,” says Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director and Nutritionist at CASH. “It is possible to eat much less salt by reading the label: we found enormous differences in salt content of sausages, regardless of the flavour, cost or meat content, showing that the hidden salt is completely unnecessary.”

CASH would advise you to look at front of pack labels when they are available and as a guide, try to choose products containing one gram or less salt per 100g, or about 0.5g per sausage.  Of the meat sausages surveyed (excluding chipolatas), only seven out of 246 (three per cent) contain less than 0.5g, the amount of salt found in a packet of crisps, for instance Weight Watchers Premium Pork Sausages contain just 0.4g per sausage. Disappointingly it is not always clear to see how much salt sausages contain; one in four (25 per cent) products have no front of pack labelling and more than one in five (22 per cent) products would be given a red light for salt if traffic light labelling was used, no product would be given a green light.

Examples of supermarket sausages with 1g or less salt per 100g:

  • Waitrose 6 Pork Toulouse Style Sausages (0.93g salt/100g)
  • ASDA Extra Special Pork & Apple Sausages (1.0g salt/100g)
  • Morrison’s Thick Pork & Beef Sausages (frozen) (1g salt/100g)
  • Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself Extra Lean Cumberland Sausages (1.00g salt/100g)
  • The Co-operative Truly Irresistible British Pork & Sweet Chilli Sausages (1.0g salt/100g)
  • Tesco Finest British Pork & Sweet Chilli Sausages (1.0g salt/100g)

“That there is still so much salt still in our sausages is a scandal” says Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and Chairman of CASH. “Salt puts up our blood pressure, leading to strokes, heart disease, osteoporosis and kidney disease, we should all be eating less that 6g salt a day.  The UK is leading the world in salt reduction, but whilst there are food manufacturers filling our favourite foods such as sausages with salt, our health is at risk.”

For media information, contact:

Kerry Noble
Communications Manager
Queen Mary, University of London
email: k.noble@qmul.ac.uk

Share on:

MORE FROM Public Health and Safety

Health news