The dangers of your picnic basket: Olives sold at Aldi contain MORE salt than a McDonalds

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Campaigners have warned of dangerously high levels of salt in your picnic basket, including in your olives and Cornish pasties.

An analysis of 555 snacks named Aldi’s Specially Selected Hand Stuffed Halkidiki Olives as the worst offender.

The 150g snack contains 5g of salt per 100g – the equivalent of 1.9g for every five olives, or 7.5g in total. In contrast, there is 1.8g in a McDonald’s hamburger and fries.

Action on Salt found half of products were higher in salt than targets set for them by Public Health England. 

Many are also high in saturated fat. For instance, a cheese and onion slice from Morrisons contained more of it than five McDonald’s hamburgers. 

The campaign group are now calling for compulsory traffic light labelling on the front of packets on all picnic favourites.

An analysis of 555 snacks named Aldi’s Specially Selected Hand Stuffed Halkidiki Olives as the worst offender. The 150g snack contains 5g of salt per 100g – the equivalent of 1.9g for every five olives, or 7.5g in total. In contrast, there is 1.8g in a McDonald’s hamburger and fries

Almost one in three products have no colour-coded front of pack labelling.

Nutrition tables on the back of packets are mandatory under EU legislation, however colour coded nutrition labelling on front of pack is optional.

Research has shown that colour coded labelling on the front of a product is more helpful to consumers in making healthier food choices.

Action on Salt branded the findings as being ‘appalling’. A product is regarded as high in salt if it has more than 1.5g per 100g.

The team, based at Queen Mary University of London, found olives in particular breached salt guidelines, which may have been expected.

Aldi Specially Selected Hand Stuffed Halkidiki Olives, sold as 150g, have 5g of salt per 100g, which is double the salt concentration of seawater.

WHAT PRODUCTS HAD THE HIGHEST SALT IN EACH CATEGORY? 
Category Manufacturer Product Pack size Portion size Salt per 100g
Olives Aldi Aldi Specially Selected Hand Stuffed Halkidiki Olives 150g 150 38 5
Chicken Marks and Spencer Marks & Spencer Teriyaki Chicken Bites 75g 75 75 2.18
Cocktail sausages Fry’s Fry’s Artisan Mini Cocktail Sausages 180g 180 18 2.3
Fish Waitrose Waitrose Intense Adriatic Anchovies 200g 200 na 3.6
Sausage rolls Fry’s Fry’s Sausage Roll 80g 80 80 1.8
Snack Peperami Peperami Tender Jerky 70g 70 23 4.3
Vegetable snack ASDA Asda Sun-dried Tomatoes 150g 150 37.5 2.7
Chorizo ASDA Asda Balsamic-Glazed Mini Chorizo 110 55 4.2

Ginsters Cornish Pasty has the equivalent salt of seven portions of salted peanuts, with 2.99g of salt per portion.

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That’s half the recommended daily limit for adults, who are advised to keep salt consumption to 6g a day – around one teaspoon.

Marks and Spencer’s Stone in Full Bodied Greek Kalamata Olives contain 4.23g of salt per 130g portion.

Aldi’s Eat and Go Sausages and Ketchup snack contains as much salt as 4.5 bags of ready salted crisps, with 2.2g of salt per portion.

Fry’s Spicy 3 Bean Pasty has 1.8g per portion – the same amount of salt found in a McDonald’s hamburger and fries.

Scotch eggs, with an average salt content of 0.76g per 100g and quiche, with an average salt content of 0.54g per 100g, fared better.

SALT DAMAGES BODY SYSTEMS AND RAISES RISK OF DEATH

As many as 400,000 heart disease deaths were linked to high sodium diets in 2015. 

Most agencies recommend eating three quarters of a teaspoon of salt each day, but many adults eat more than that. 

An individual-sized bag of chips accounts for about seven to 12 percent of daily sodium intake, so a high salt diet would be the equivalent of eating more than eight bags each day.  

The balance of fluids and sodium in the body is crucial to homeostasis, which keeps systems operating in sync. 

When there is too much sodium in our systems, our bodies retain excess fluid to try to balance out the salt. 

The fluid makes the heart have to work harder to pump blood, leading to higher blood pressure. 

High blood pressure, in turn, raises risks for stroke and heart disease.  

Higher blood pressure also makes it more difficult for the heart to push oxygen-carrying blood to various organs, including the brain, which lead to cognitive declines.

Action on Salt said a significant variation in salt content in similar products proved that reformulation of recipes is achievable.

For example, Gosh! Mediterranean Falafel with Chickpea and Parsley contains 3.5 times more salt than Cauldron Middle Eastern Falafels.

It was also made clear that vegetarian and vegan options are not always ‘healthier’.

The saltiest sausage roll was Fry’s Sausage Roll 80g – a vegan brand with 1.8g salt per 100g.

The research found one in four snacks are high in salt and would qualify for a red label on front of pack.

When looking at saturated fat, nearly half of products surveyed had worryingly high levels.

Morrisons Cheese & Onion Slices contain 17.7g of saturated fat per portion – almost the total of a woman’s recommended daily limit (20g).

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Asda Extra Special Maple Cured Smoked Bacon Quiche Lorraine with Butter Enriched Shortcrust Pastry had a huge 14g per portion.

Sonia Pombo, campaign lead for Action on Salt said, salt intake in the UK averages 8g per day.

She said: ‘Picnics are a British favourite but with all the different salty options on offer, it’s a sure way of upping your salt intake.

‘Eating too much salt puts us at risk of suffering from heart disease or stroke but we are all eating much more salt than the recommended limit of 6g per day.

‘The challenge facing consumers is that most of the salt in our diet is already present in the foods we buy.

‘And so the government must take action now and ensure the food industry improves the quality of their food for the benefit of our health.’

Public Health England issued guideline salt targets for over 80 categories of food in 2014, which were to be met by 2017.

However, analysis by PHE in 2018 revealed many of the targets had not been fully met, and the research found a ‘staggering’ half of products were higher in salt than targets set by PHE.

Action for Salt said: ‘Over the last two years, PHE and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have taken little action to encourage the food industry to meet the 2017 targets.’ 

WHAT WERE THE PRODUCTS HIGHEST IN SALT PER MANUFACTURER? *Olive products have been reduced the singularly highest product per manufacturer 
Manufacturer Product Category Pack size (g) Portion size (g) Salt per 100g Salt per portion
Aldi Aldi Specially Selected Hand Stuffed Halkidiki Olives 150g Olives 150 38 5 1.9
Aldi Aldi Eat & Go Sausages & Ketchup Snack Pack 120 120 1.8 2.16
Aldi Aldi Eat & Go Ready to Eat Snackin’ Chicken Southern Fried Flavour Bites 60g Chicken 60 60 1.4 0.86
ASDA Asda Balsamic-Glazed Mini Chorizo Meat Antipasti 110 55 4.2 1.8
ASDA Asda Garlic Olives 160g Olives 160 40 3.8 1.52
ASDA Asda Sun-dried Tomatoes 150g Vegetable Antipasti 150 37.5 2.7 1.0125
Fry’s Fry’s Artisan Mini Cocktail Sausages 180g Cocktail Sausages 180 18 2.3 0.4
Fry’s Fry’s Sausage Roll 80g Sausage Rolls 80 80 1.8 1.4
Ginsters Ginsters Large Cornish Pasty 272g Meat Pastries 272 272 1.1 2.992
H. Forman & Son H. Forman & Son Marinated Anchovies with Garlic 200g Fish Antipasti 200 50 2.1 1
Humza Humza Chicken Charcoal Seekh Kebabs 200g Chicken 200 N/A  1.7 1.7
Iceland Deli Speciale Pimento Stuffed Olives Olives 160 N/A  4.1 N/A 
Iceland Iceland 5 Chicken Satay Chicken 80 16 1.85 0.3
Lidl Lidl Deluxe Halkidiki Olives Olives 150 50 3.3 1.65
Lidl Lidl Meadow Fresh Feta Stuffed Green & Red Chillies 230g Vegetable Antipasti 230 46 1.6 0.736
Lidl Lidl Meadow Fresh Feta Stuffed Red Hot Chillies 230g Vegetable Antipasti 230 46 1.6 0.736
Marks and Spencer Marks & Spencer Stone in Basil & Garlic Marinated Olive Selection Olives 180 90 3.88 3.492
Marks and Spencer Marks & Spencer Teriyaki Chicken Bites 75g Chicken 75 75 2.18 1.64
Marks and Spencer Marks & Spencer Teriyaki Chicken Bites 75g Chicken Chicken Bites 75 75 2.18
Morrisons Morrisons Mediterranean Olive Trio 150g Olives 150 37 3.79 1.4023
Morrisons Morrisons Chorizo Bites with Honey & Cider Glaze 90g Meat Antipasti 90 23 3.15 0.71
Morrisons Morrisons Chorizo with Red Wine Sauce 95g Meat Antipasti 95 24 3.06 0.7344
Morrisons Morrisons Grilled Peppers in Herb Dressing 100g Vegetable Antipasti 100 25 1.59 0.3975
Morrisons Morrisons 30 Pork Cocktail Sausages Cocktail Sausages 246 49 1.58 0.7742
Peperami Peperami Tender Jerky 70g Snack Pack 70 23 4.3 1
Peperami Original Peperami Mini’s Snack Pack 100 10 4.1 0.41
Real Olive Co. Real Olive Co. Organic Kasbah Olives Olives 185 N/A  2.1 N/A 
Sainsbury’s Sainsbury’s Mixed Olives & Greek Feta Olives 300 60 3.75 2.25
Taste Original Taste Original 12 Mini Chicken Satay 120g Chicken 120 N/A  1.58 0.16
Tesco Tesco Olives with Lemon & Herbs 220g Olives 220 44 3.1 1.364
Tesco Tesco Sundried Tomatoes 225g Vegetable Antipasti 225 45 1.9 0.855
Tesco Tesco Marinated Anchovies 140g Fish Antipasti 140 35 1.8 0.63
The Co-operative Coop Mixed Olives with Feta in a Herb Dressing 150g Olives 150 50 3.38 1.69
The Co-operative Co-op Prawns with Marie Rose Dipping Sauce 90g Snack Pack 90 90 1.62 1.458
Unearthed Unearthed Nocellara & Leccino Olives 220g Olives 220 N/A  3.2 N/A 
Unearthed Unearthed Citrus Nocellara Olives 180g Olives 180 N/A 2.9 N/A 
Unearthed Unearthed Prawn & Wakame Salad 90g Fish Antipasti 90 N/A  2.2 N/A 
Waitrose Waitrose Spanish Snacking Chorizo 60g Meat Antipasti 60 60 3.89 2.334
Waitrose Waitrose Garlic & Jalapeno Stuffed Olives 180g Olives 180 N/A  3.83 N/A 
Waitrose Waitrose British Chorizo Bonbons 110g Meat Antipasti 110 16 3.28 0.51
Waitrose Waitrose Sun Dried Tomatoes 200g Vegetable Antipasti 200 N/A  2.63 N/A 
Waitrose Waitrose Chorizo, Jalapeno Cheese 100g Meat Antipasti 100 N/A  2.6 N/A 
Waitrose Waitrose Grilled Puglian Stem-on Artichokes with Green Pesto 110g Vegetable Antipasti 110 N/A  2.55 N/A 
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