Campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has issued an apology and retracted a recent press statement that wrongfully labelled cheese as the third “biggest contributor of salt in the diet.”
The correction follows the publication of a study by CASH, which found that many of the UK’s most popular cheese products “were unnecessarily high in salt.”
On the back of the study, which involved the analysis of 772 UK supermarket-available cheese products, CASH called on the UK Department of Health to set lower salt content targets for cheese manufacturers.
In a press release accompanying its findings, CASH labelled cheese as the “third biggest contributor of salt in the diet, after bread and bacon.”
The UK Dairy Council disputed the statement - citing the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which found that cheese contributes only 4% of the UK’s salt intake.
CASH has since held its hands up and admitted its “error.”
Healthy balanced diet
“A previous version of this release contained the following statement in error ‘cheese is the 3rd biggest contributor of salt in the diet, after bread and bacon’. This is incorrect and we apologise. Cheese provides 4% of the salt in the UK diet and our recommendation remains that cheese should be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet,” said the statement.
UK Dairy Council director, Dr Judith Bryans, has welcomed CASH’s apology and the withdrawal of the statement.
“We have been informed that CASH has issued an apology for an inaccurate reference to cheese being the third biggest contributor to salt in the diet in its cheese survey results press release. They have since removed this reference from their release,” said Bryans.
“The British dairy industry takes its responsibilities with regard to nutrition and food safety very seriously indeed. It makes cheese that contains many valuable nutrients and is an important part of a healthy diet. Cheese has been one of the staples of the British diets for centuries and many people will see this report as another attempt to undermine one of the nation’s favourites,” she added.
Cheese manufacturer targets
Cheddar – the country’s favourite cheese – was found to contain an average of 0.52g of salt per 30g portion – more salt than a packet of crisps. Other cheese products were found to contain more salt than seawater.
French blue cheese Roquefort was identified as the saltiest cheese in the survey, containing 3.43g of salt per 100g portion.
On the back of the study, CASH chairman Graham MacGregor called on the UK Department of Health to “stop dragging its heels” and set a new, lower salt content target for cheese manufacturers.
Despite its “error”, CASH has maintained its call to the UK Department of Health.