Salt levels in free-from products

A survey by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) of the levels of salt in UK supermarkets’ own-brand gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free foods has found more than half had higher salt levels than standard versions – while the levels in some others were lower.
The survey looked at 71 supermarket own-label products in free-from ranges, including breads, burgers, cakes, processed meat, fruit pies and pastry desserts, sweet biscuits, ready meals and sponge puddings. The salt content per portion and per 100g was compared to the salt content for the same retailer’s standard product. Forty of the products (56%) had higher salt levels than the standard products of comparison; 19 products (27%) had lower salt levels.
The worst offenders were Sainsbury’s Free From Jaffa Cakes, which had six times the level in the standard Sainsbury’s own-brand Jaffa Cakes and Asda’s Double Chocolate Muffins, where the free-from version had 1g of salt per 10g and the standard version 0.3g.
The fact that a significant number of free-from products had lower salt levels than standard products would suggest that there was no technical reason for free-from products to be higher in salt – which makes the findings somewhat random... Given the government’s push to reduce salt intake to no more than 6g per day (for adults) in an attempt to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke, maybe free-from manufacturers need to revisit some of their recipes. Sainsbury’s apparently already are, with the aim of meeting the Food Standards Agency’s 2010 and 2012 salt targets and ensuring that all free-from products are nutritionally comparable to the equivalent products in their main ranges.

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First Published in November 2009