Call for salt action on Chinese takeaways and ready meals

Unhealthy Chinese meals 'should carry health warning'

Unhealthy Chinese meals 'should carry health warning'

A takeaway egg fried rice, at 4.4g of salt, had as much salt as 10 bags of ready salted crisps.

And 58% contained more than 3g of salt per dish - which is half an adult's maximum recommended daily intake.

By contrast a McDonald's Big Mac contains just 2.3g of salt, which is still around a third of the recommended healthy limit.

Action on Salt analysed dishes from six Chinese restaurants and found 97 per cent contained 2g of salt or more per dish.

Mhairi Brown, of World Action on Salt & Health, said health chiefs "should consider warning labels on high salt dishes".

Action on Salt said there is urgent need to reduce salt content in popular takeaways and ready meals.

The group also looked at Chinese ready meals from supermarkets and found that, of the 141 examined, 43% were high in salt - high enough to receive a red warning label on the front of the pack. Soy sauces were by far the saltiest - on average being over five times saltier than seawater, with sides and dipping sauces in some cases adding almost 4g of salt per person to a meal.

Sarah Alderton, assistant nutritionist at Action on Salt, said, "Considering how many millions of takeaways and ready meals are eaten in the United Kingdom each week, the food industry must be held to account, with new salt targets set by the government to ensure the salt content of these meals is reduced to much lower levels, and fast. If the food industry don't comply, they should be made mandatory".

Professor Graham MacGregor, of Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Salt, said: "Salt is the forgotten killer as it puts up our blood pressure, leading to tens of thousands of unnecessary strokes, heart failure and heart attacks every year.

Reducing salt is the most cost effective measure to reduce the number of people dying or suffering from strokes or heart disease". However, some products are still too high in salt and we know this can be reduced further. "We are now calling on Public Health England to take immediate action".