False nutritional information on food packaging

09/01/2008 - 00:00
Health conscious consumers in Britain are slowly steering away from fast food and are spending more money on premium ready meals and foods which claim to be 'healthier'. But research suggests that we're not always being told the truth about the food we eat.

Channel 4's Dispatches programme, which goes out tomorrow night, aims to raise awareness and encourage debate about food production, animal welfare and healthy eating.

The programme examines the accuracy of nutritional information on the packaging of many convenience foods and has found a dramatic difference between what some labels state and the reality.

There are huge errors in some measurements such as the percentage of fat displayed, and the flawed legislation that allows misleading information to be featured on the packaging.

Dispatches also questions the presentation of the Guideline Daily Amount figures on packaging, suggesting the recommended daily amounts of fat, salt and sugar should be lowered.

When the Food Standards Agency surveyed ready meals in June 2003, it found that the average salt content was 3.3g, with some ready meals containing almost all of an adult's recommended maximum daily amount in a single serving.

Some particularly bad offenders with the highest salt content found in the CASH survey was Asda Indian Chicken Tikka Masala and Pilau Rice containing 5.0g salt per portion, along with Waitrose Chicken Tikka Masala and Pilau Rice with 3.6g salt per portion.

However, according to a survey conducted by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) last November, the average salt level of ready meals on sale in UK supermarkets has reduced by 45% over the last four years.

Jo Butten, CASH Nutritionist explained more: "Eating too much salt is a serious health risk. Salt acts as a long-term toxin that puts up blood pressure in both children and adults and thereby causes strokes and heart attacks.

"We know that reducing salt intakes to below the recommended 6g a day for adults and less for children reduces the risk of having a stroke by a quarter and heart attacks by one fifth, so it is really important that people choose lower salt options and avoid these remaining high-salt ready meals until they are reformulated to contain less salt."
"We know that reducing salt intakes to below the recommended 6g a day for adults and less for children reduces the risk of having a stroke by a quarter and heart attacks by one fifth, so it is really important that people choose lower salt options and avoid these remaining high-salt ready meals until they are reformulated to contain less salt."

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