Crumpets from big brands contain 'alarmingly high' salt levels, survey finds

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Popular brands of crumpets contain "alarmingly high" amounts of salt, with one "giant" version having the equivalent of more than three bags of ready salted crisps, a survey has found.

Warburtons' Giant Crumpets contain twice the concentration of salt per 100g than a Waitrose own-brand version, showing that the content can easily be reduced by manufacturers, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) said.

Almost half of the 27 crumpets included in the survey (48%) exceeded the Government's Responsibility Deal 2017 average salt targets for crumpets of 1.13g of salt per 100g, while seven products exceeded the maximum salt target of 1.25g salt per 100g.

The target for crumpets is the same as for sausages, meaning many brands are saltier than sausages by concentration, Cash said.

Cash warned that retailers and manufacturers have just 12 months to meet all salt reduction targets.

The average salt level per crumpet was 0.62g, which is nearly the same amount as one-and-a-half packets of ready salted crisps.

Its survey found that the Warburtons range of crumpets were the worst offenders, with the giant range containing 1.48g of salt per 100g, or 1.55g per crumpet - more than a quarter of the recommended daily maximum of salt for adults, without any topping.

Overall, salt levels in branded crumpets were significantly higher on average than supermarket own-label versions, with gluten-free alternatives being saltier than normal crumpets.

Waitrose Deep and Delicious Buttermilk crumpets and Essential Waitrose crumpets contained half the amount of salt per 100g as the Warburtons crumpets.

Cash nutritionist and campaign director Katharine Jenner said: "Salt reduction has been recognised as a public health priority for a number of years, so responsible manufacturers know they should be reducing salt in their foods.

"It's shocking that certain brands of crumpets still contain more salt than three bags of ready salted crisps. It's imperative that retailers, food manufacturers and the out-of-home catering sector work much harder to help us achieve the public health goal of consuming no more than 6g salt per person per day."

Cash chairman Graham MacGregor, who is professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said: "Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to lower blood pressure and reduce the number of people suffering from strokes and heart disease - one of the commonest causes of death in the UK.

"Salt reduction targets have been set for manufacturers to reach before the end of 2017, and if some companies, for example Warburtons, don't achieve them, we must regulate the targets to ensure a level playing field, as requested by many of the supermarkets and British Retail Consortium."

Crumpets with the highest amount of salt per 100g, according to the Cash findings, include:

:: Warburtons 2 Giant Crumpets (1.48g)

:: Warburtons 6 Crumpets (1.48g)

:: Warburtons Newburn Bakehouse Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Milk Free 4 Crumpets (1.43g)

:: Marks and Spencer Made Without Wheat Gluten Free Crumpets (1.4g)

:: Tesco Pikelets (1.4g)

Warburtons said it had invested significantly in technology and innovation to reduce salt levels by 25% in recent years.

A spokeswoman said: "We continue to look for opportunities to further reduce the overall levels of salt across our range by using baking powder alternatives, such as potassium bicarbonate, which has yet to be approved by government.

"Consumers can find all nutritional information on pack and we are signed up to the Government's voluntary 'traffic light' labelling scheme for which all of our crumpets are rated amber."

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: "The amount of salt we consume is slowly going down, but we are still eating too much, leaving many of us at risk of high blood pressure and the chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

"Tackling the amount of salt people consume cannot be left to the individual alone. The food industry has made good progress, with reductions of up to 50% in some everyday foods. More still needs to be done and we encourage all sectors - including the eating out of home sector - to continue working towards achieving the 2017 salt targets."