Local councils stated that fast food chains and restaurants are ‘dragging their heels’ when it comes to adhering to regulations regarding the levels of salt in their meals.
The Local Government Association (LGA), the organisation which represents around 400 councils in England and Wales, stated that voluntary targets had been provided by the Department of Health about five months ago, but most food outlets have chosen to ignore them.
They found that only two companies, Subway and Jamie’s Kitchen, made the decision to follow the guidelines by cutting the salt level in ten of its most popular dishes. Wetherspoons was the worst offender, where 8.9g of salt was found in the 10oz gammon with chips, eggs, tomato, flat mushroom and peas meal.
According to current guidelines from the Ministry of Health, people are advised to consume less than 6g or one and a half teaspoons of salt per day, however it was found that some pubs and restaurants were offering meals which contained almost 9g of salt.
The chairwoman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Katie Hall, said she was shocked by these findings and believed that restaurants should do more to ensure that the salt levels in their meals are reduced to a healthier level. She said that salt is one of the major killers, yet not enough is being done to tackle this problem.
It is currently estimated that the average British consumption of salt is 8.1g per day. This is more than two grams more than the recommended level.
High levels of salt intake can lead to a wide range of health problems, particularly high blood pressure, which leads to more serious illnesses, such as heart disease and stroke.
A spokesman for Blood Pressure UK said that the level of salt in a person’s diet has a direct effect on their blood pressure.
Salt allows your body to retain water and the excess water stored in the body increases blood pressure. The higher the blood pressure, the more strain is placed on the heart, brain, kidneys and arteries, which could lead to kidney disease, dementia, strokes and heart attacks.
Image Credit: David Blaikie