Dinner by Heston Blumenthal congratulated for low levels of hidden salt

To mark National Salt Awareness Week, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) tested the levels of hidden salt in meals served in so-called celebrity chef restaurants

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has been judged to have the lowest level of hidden salt in dishes on its menu compared to other so-called celebrity chef restaurants, according to a new report released by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH).

To mark National Salt Awareness Week, CASH has revealed the results of a survey which it says 'exposes' the hidden salt found in restaurant meals.

According to CASH, which tested 664 main meals from 29 'popular high street and celebrity restaurants, fast food and café chains', 347 meals (52 per cent) contained more than 2.4g of salt per portion.

If the meals in question were on sale in a supermarket they would be marked with a red traffic light under the labelling system currently used in retailing but not the hospitality industry.

“We have lifted the lid on chef’s cooking and found they are still hooked on the white stuff," said Katharine Jenner, campaign director and nutritionist for CASH.

“We are all eating too much salt; if you want to cut down at home you can do; by reading the labels, using less salt in cooking and using less processed food.  However it’s not so easy when you are grabbing lunch on the go or out for a nice evening meal.  

"As most of the salt we eat is hidden in our food, for National Salt Awareness Week we are asking the public to stand up to chefs and ask for less salt please," she added.

Jamie's Italian

Partly due to larger portion sizes, so-called celebrity chef restaurants were generally judged by CASH to have higher levels of hidden salt than cafés and fast food chains.

According to the organisation, the thirteen saltiest meals tested all contained more than the recommended daily intake of 6g of salt. 

Out of the sample of celebrity chef restaurants, Jamie's Italian was the worst offender with one game meatball dish containing 8.1g of salt per portion.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was shown to have the lowest levels of salt per dish - all the dishes tested contained less than 1.5g. 

However CASH has revealed it has met with the team at Jamie's Italian and has accepted the salt content in the game meatball dish was 'unusual' for a company committed to reducing salt.

"We were not aware before our meeting with Jamie's Italian that Jamie Oliver Ltd employs three full-time nutritionists who regularly test all food across the business and that these tests are sent for independent analysis by a third party," a CASH statement said.

"We applaud Jamie's commitment to reducing salt content and for signing up to the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal Salt Catering Pledge, the first celebrity chef to do so."

Government strategy

Other salty meals tested by CASH included a gammon and eggs dish served by JD Wetherspoon which contained 8.9g of salt per portion and a steamed mussels dish on the menu at Gordon Ramsay's The Savoy Grill which was found to contain 8g per portion.

Reacting to the organisation's findings, the Public Health Minister, Anna Soubry MP, revealed the hospitality industry would soon face further pressure from Government to reduce levels of salt.

“We will soon be announcing our updated salt strategy, including a review of Responsibility Deal salt targets, where we'll start with a focus on getting more in the catering sector to take action and reduce salt in their foods," she said.

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