Stock cubes and gravies contain ‘high and unnecessary’ amounts of hidden salt, according to an analysis from Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH).
The CASH-commissioned research tested leading brand and supermarket own brand stocks and gravies in the UK, and compared them to Department of Health recommendations set to be rolled out in the New Year under its Responsibility Deal. The researchers found that only 13 out of the 102 stock products analysed would meet the criteria for a green traffic light label for salt, meaning less than 0.3 g of salt per 100 g of product as consumed.
In addition, 99% of gravies would receive a red or amber label for salt, and some stock cubes were 50% salt.
“It is a scandal that there is still so much unnecessary salt in commonly used ingredients, when it is perfectly possible to make them with less,” said Graham MacGregor, CASH chairman and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London.
“Manufacturers must start working towards the new salt targets immediately.”
According to the Department of Health’s upcoming guidelines for meat extracts, manufacturers should aim for gravy to contain no more than 0.88 mg of salt per 100 ml when made up for consumption, and stock to contain no more than 0.75 mg per 100 ml of finished product.
The saltiest gravy was Bisto Original Gravy Powder, which contained 0.83 g of salt per 50 ml portion (1.66 g per 100 ml). The saltiest stock was Aldi’s Quixo Beef Stock Cubes, with 5.09 g salt per cube.
However, the analysis did find some products that were low in salt, with fresh, ready-made stocks and gravies generally lower in salt than their concentrated counterparts, per 100 ml of made-up product.