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Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

NEW Survey Finds Shocking Amounts of Salt in Popular Branded Sausages

CASH slams failure by many companies to reduce salt despite three weeks to go to reach the 2017 salt targets


  • Eating a sausage sandwich for breakfast could provide more salt than a double cheeseburger and large fries
  • Veggie sausages can contain more salt than half a Pizza Hut Margherita Pizza 
  • Children could be eating two thirds of their maximum recommended daily intake of salt from just 2 sausages
  • CASH calls for Public Health England to get tough on the food industry and set new mandatory targets for 2020

NEW research by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) based at Queen Mary University of London has exposed the shocking and excessively high amounts of salt in certain sausage brands. By starting the day with a sausage sandwich you could be eating nearly two thirds of an adult’s maximum daily recommended intake (6g salt) – more salt than a Double Cheeseburger and large Fries!

The British public eat more than 175,000 tonnes of sausages each year, which amounts to a staggering 61g of salt per person, the equivalent of 134 packets of ready salted crisps.

The survey, conducted using the new and updated FoodSwitch UK app, found that the average salt content of sausages sold today is 1.3g/100g, or 1.16g of salt per two sausages – a figure that has remained relatively unchanged since 2011, exceeding the salt reduction targets in place at that time. As the 2017 voluntary salt targets set by Public Health England are due to be met in just three weeks’ time, CASH is calling for mandatory salt targets to be set, as the food industry has failed to protect the public’s health voluntarily.

The worst offender is Richmond, whose full range of sausages tops all other manufacturers for salt. In fact, the salt content of their sausages has remained consistently high since at least 2011, suggesting that they have made no effort to reduce salt in their sausages.

Please follow this link for the full CASH Salt and Saturated Fat data for Sausage Survey 2017

The research found huge variation in salt levels across all sausages, from the highest at 2.3g/100g (Richmond 12 Skinless Pork Sausages) to the lowest at 0.75g/100g (The Co-operative Irresistible 6 Sweet Chilli Sausages) – a massive three-fold difference in salt content per 100g! The survey also found large variations within supermarket own-brand sausages - the saltiest variety sold by ASDA (Extra Special 6 Bacon & Maple Syrup Pork Sausages, 1.1g per sausage) had more than double the salt per sausage of ASDA’s least salty variety (Extra Special 6 Lincolnshire Pork Sausages, 0.45g per sausage). This clearly demonstrates that making sausages with less salt is possible and could be achieved by ALL manufacturers, not just the responsible few.

Going meat free isn’t always healthier in terms of salt either; some vegetarian options are just as salty. Quorn’s 4 Best of British Sausages have a whopping 1.9g salt/100g dishing up 2.2g salt in 2 sausages – that’s more salt than half a Pizza Hut Margherita Pizza!
As well as being high in salt, sausages also score badly for saturated fat (saturates), another contributing factor to strokes and heart disease. Eighty five per cent of meat sausages surveyed by CASH were high in saturates (>5g/100g), with a wide variation ranging from 0.4g/100g to 11.1g/100g: a 96% difference!
Incredibly, Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Toulouse Inspired British Pork Sausages contain a shocking 12.2g of saturated fat per portion (2 sausages), which is more than half of the recommended daily maximum intake of saturated fat for women, and also contain more than a gram of salt per portion.
Whilst eight out of ten products had colour coded front of pack labelling, allowing customers to see at a glance how much salt and saturates are in their favourite products, the biggest brands – including Richmond, Wall’s and Iceland, fail to provide this, and also have a portion size as ‘1 sausage’, which is completely unrealistic. CASH have produced a free App, FoodSwitch, which allows customers to scan the barcodes of their shopping to see the ‘traffic light colours’, and make a healthier choice.

Mhairi Brown, Assistant Nutritionist at CASH says:
“This survey really exposes how dangerously salty most sausages are, as children could be eating at least 2g of salt from a meal that contains just two sausages! Eating too much salt in childhood increases our blood pressure, which then tracks into adulthood and is the main cause of strokes and heart disease. The food industry must do more to reduce salt in family-favourite foods, and help protect our health”

Sonia Pombo, Nutritionist and Campaign Manager at CASH explains:
“So far we have seen very little evidence that the latest set of voluntary salt targets have been achieved, despite the impending deadline this month. Therefore strict monitoring and tougher regulation from the government must be implemented. Based on the latest recommendations from SACN, supporting the use of potassium based salt replacers as a potential way to help reduce sodium in food [13], the government should now encourage companies to explore the use of potassium (a mineral found naturally in fruit, vegetables other foods) in sausages and help reduce the nation’s blood pressure.”

Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of CASH adds:
“The UK has led the world on salt reduction but this survey clearly shows that many companies are not cooperating with the current voluntary policy. Public Health England, who is now responsible, must get tough on those companies not complying and set new mandatory targets to be achieved by 2020 without further delay. Otherwise, thousands of people will die from unnecessary strokes and heart attacks every year. Salt reduction is the most cost-effective and most successful public health preventive measure made to date, and it is a national tragedy that it is being allowed to fail.”