A new report has found that up to 70% of snacks bought as part of supermarket meal deals contain “dangerously high” levels of sugar, salt, or saturated fat.
The report published by Action on Salt – a group of scientists from Queen Mary University of London who are concerned with salt and its effects on health – found that some meal deal snacks contribute to a third of an adult’s maximum daily recommended salt intake, with a couple of the worst offenders including biscuits, cakes, and crisps.
For the study, nutritionists analysed the contents of 360 individual products which are found listed as snacks in supermarket meal deals.
Authors of the study explained that three in 10 products studied were found to contain high levels of salt, with the worst-offending snacks for salt intake including Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, Mini Cheddar crackers, and chicken bites.
The study also found that in each of the eight high street supermarkets and food chains analysed, the chicken sandwich or wrap being sold as part of its meal deal combo had “higher salt levels than a McDonald’s Big Mac and fries”.
The report stated that chicken and bacon sandwiches were often the saltiest meal deal product from each supermarket, with the Asda Chicken and Bacon Caesar Triple, and the Tesco Chicken Club Sandwich both containing two grams of salt, and the chicken and bacon sandwichs from Boots, Co-op, and Sainsbury’s all contained between 1.74 grams and 1.93 grams of salt as well.
Out of all the high street supermarkets analysed, according to Action on Salt, Sainsbury’s ranked most favourably with a “greater overall compliance to the salt reduction targets”.
Salt is known to raise blood pressure and can contribute towards strokes and heart attacks.
Action on Salt described the findings as “concerning” given the fact that one in three Brits apparently purchase a meal deal at least twice a week, and is calling for stronger measures to be put in place to improve the nutritional quality of food.
This includes enforcing the salt reduction targets, and for only the snacks known as healthier to be included in all meal deals.
Speaking more on the findings of the report, Sheena Bhageerutty – Nutritionist at Action on Salt – said: “Without doubt, meal deals are hugely popular especially amongst the nation’s workforce looking for a convenient and ‘value for money’ lunch, yet unbeknown to many consumers, these meal combos and snacks are often exceedingly high in salt, which means an adult can consume their maximum daily recommended salt intake in just one meal without even knowing it.
“Rather than trying to ‘upsell’ us on salt, saturated fat and sugar, CEOs of food retailers must act more responsibly by setting strict internal standards including only healthier snack options as part of the ‘deal’.”
Featured Image – Max Pixel