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A quarter of sliced meats sold in major supermarkets are saltier than seawater, a study has found.

Researchers analysed 555 ready-to-eat cooked meats such as ham or salami, finding an ‘appalling’ failure to meet national salt reduction targets.

They revealed two-thirds of chilled sliced meats are ‘dangerously high’ in salt, having 1.5g per 100g and scoring a red on the traffic light labelling system. 

Less than 1 per cent are low or green.

One in four products are saltier than Atlantic seawater, which has 2.5g of salt per 100g, according to experts from Action On Salt based at Queen Mary University of London.

From Spanish chorizo to Wiltshire roast ham, these are the ready-to-eat meats with more salt per 100g than Atlantic seawater - stocked by the nation's major supermarkets

From Spanish chorizo to Wiltshire roast ham, these are the ready-to-eat meats with more salt per 100g than Atlantic seawater - stocked by the nation's major supermarkets

From Spanish chorizo to Wiltshire roast ham, these are the ready-to-eat meats with more salt per 100g than Atlantic seawater – stocked by the nation’s major supermarkets

The study revealed that Waitrose is the worst offender, with 93 per cent of its ‘own label’ meat products failing to comply with reduction targets. 

By comparison just 7 per cent of meats at Tesco were too salty, making it the best retailer at complying with targets.

The researchers said the failure of manufacturers to cut salt levels means ‘thousands could die unnecessarily’ of heart disease.

Health officials have set chilled meat salt reduction targets for the food industry to achieve by 2024. 

For example, sliced ham should have a maximum of 1.63g salt per 100g and sliced chicken 0.9g.

The NHS says adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – about a teaspoon – but data shows that on average adults eat 8.4g. 

The report found some sliced meats are so salty a single ham sandwich can contain half an adult’s daily recommended intake.

The researchers said it is possible to vastly reduce salt levels in cured meats while retaining their tastiness by using alternatives to sodium salt such as potassium.

A diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Professor Graham MacGregor, a cardiologist at Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘It’s a disgrace that companies continue to fill our food with so much salt when there is the option to reformulate, which can easily be done.’

The NHS says adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – about a teaspoon – but data shows that on average adults eat 8.4g

The NHS says adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – about a teaspoon – but data shows that on average adults eat 8.4g

The NHS says adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – about a teaspoon – but data shows that on average adults eat 8.4g

Action On Salt wants ministers to enforce salt reduction targets, with penalties such as fines for companies which fail to comply.

Professor Graham MacGregor, a cardiologist at Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘It’s a disgrace that companies continue to fill our food with so much salt when there is the option to reformulate, which can easily be done.’

Waitrose said it had made significant cuts in salt and was ‘actively working to meet the 2024 targets’.

Source: Daily Mail

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