Action on Salt has raised concerns over the levels of salt in ‘healthy' plant-based and vegan meals being served at UK restaurants, fast food and coffee chains.
In a survey done by the campaign group, three out of five plant-based restaurant meals surveyed contained 3g or more salt – half of an adult's maximum daily intake of salt. Of these, 19 contained 6g or more – an adult's entire maximum daily limit in one meal.
Worst offenders included Loch Fyne's spiced roasted cauliflower and squash Goan curry with 8.65g of salt, Bella Italia's vegan cheese pizza with 8.1g and Chiquito's ‘vegarrito' with 7.89g.
Action on Salt said if restaurant chains were to display colour-coded nutrition information on their menus like packaged food in supermarkets, more than four out of five plant-based meals would have a red label for high salt content (i.e. more than 1.8g salt in a meal).
Zoe Davies, nutritionist at Action on Salt, said: "Making healthier choices isn't always the easy option, but whereas much of the retail sector voluntarily displays clear nutrition information on the front of their packaging to help shoppers find the healthier options, the eating out sector have yet to be as transparent. In fact, they are hiding behind labels such as ‘vegan' and ‘plant-based', and our research shows this is misleading customers into thinking they are healthy."
Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chair of Action on Salt, added: "It is shocking that many in the out of home sector appear to be deliberately ignoring the voluntary salt reduction targets, in what many regard incorrectly as healthy food. The government must enforce stricter and more comprehensive salt reduction targets and create a fair and level playing field wherever you choose to eat."
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