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‘More salt than seawater’ – Study slams UK cheese salt content

2 commentsBy Mark Astley , 29-Nov-2012

‘More salt than seawater’ – Study slams UK cheese salt content

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has called on the UK Department of Health to set lower salt content targets for cheese manufacturers, after a study discovered some cheese products contain more salt than crisps or seawater.

The study, which was conducted by CASH, involved the analysis of 772 UK supermarket-available cheese products. CASH discovered that many popular cheese products “were unnecessarily high in salt.”

Cheddar – the country’s favourite cheese – was found to contain an average of 0.52g per 30g portion - more salt than a packet of crisps. Other cheese products were found to contain more salt than seawater.

On the back of the group’s study, CASH chairman Graham MacGregor has urged the government to “stop dragging its heels” and set a new, lower salt content target for cheese manufacturers.

The Department of Health must stop its delaying tactics and set new much lower targets for cheese manufacturers, and make sure they achieve them. The cheese industry must comply if we are to save the maximum number of lives,” said MacGregor.

Industry backlash

The CASH study has, unsurprisingly, been met with opposition from the UK dairy industry.

The UK Dairy Council, which provides science-based information on the role of dairy foods, has criticised CASH for drawing health conclusions from a survey that reveals “a lot of what is already known.”

“The CASH survey is mixing up the effect of cheese on health with the effect of salt on health,” said Dairy Council director, Dr Judith Bryans.

Cheese is a whole food with a complex nutritional make up which has not been shown to cause heart disease or stroke. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that cheese contributes only 4% of the nation’s salt intake.”

Responding to the calls from CASH for government intervention, Bryans added: “Salt is an integral part of the cheese making process.”

“It is not added for taste or flavour but for safety and technical reasons. In actual fact cheese manufacturers have worked very hard to reduce salt levels in their products and worked constructively and positively with government agencies to do this whilst providing products which are nutritious, safe and acceptable to the consumer.”

“We do not think it is constructive to send out a message that a cheese sandwich is not good for you,” she added.

More salt than seawater

Roquefort – a French sheep’s milk blue cheese – was identified as the saltiest cheese in the survey, containing 3.43g of salt per 100g portion.

Cheese Singles, and Cypriot cheese Halloumi followed closely, with 100g portions containing 2.51g and 2.71g of salt respectively.

Salt levels in these cheeses were higher than in seawater.

Meanwhile, salt levels in certain varieties of Mozzarella, Emmental, and Wensleydale were some of the lowest in the survey.

The study also revealed huge variation in salt content between cheese products.

For example, the Co-operative’s Truly Irresistible Piccante Gorgonzola contains nearly 0.98g of salt per 30g portion – six times more than Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Torta con Gorgonzola, which contained just 0.17g per portion.

2 comments (Comments are now closed)

salty cheese?

Most of the cheeses mentioned are from abroad.

Some which are mentioned, Wensleydale for instance, are so bland as to be tasteless.

If SOME cheeses are damned because they have more salt than crisps why not ban crisps? And bacon. And, in fact, salt itself. Don't sell table or cooking salt, we might DIE!

It's not often that I hear research results which annoy as much as this one. CASH needs to have a sense of proportion. Did the study include figures on how much of the offending cheese was eaten - or even bought?

Pah.

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Posted by Mary
30 November 2012 | 14h45

Another Load of Rubish

Some cheeses have more salt than others -thanks for letting us know. Chips have a lot of fat and fried Mars Bars even more. Give us a break just tell us whats in the products we purchased and let people make up their own minds -I'm fed up of reading day upon day whats bad for us! Start telling people what is good for them instead

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Posted by Maggie Whitlock
30 November 2012 | 02h22

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