The crumpets that are saltier than crisps and sausages

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The crumpets that are saltier than crisps and sausages

A new survey reveals another food item with unnecessary levels of salt, sparking concern that the 2017 salt targets won’t be met 

A survey by campaign group Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) has revealed astonishingly high levels of salt in popular breakfast item, crumpets.  Warburtons were the worst offenders. Their heavily-advertised Giant Crumpet contains even more salt than three packets of crisps, with a staggering 1.55g per crumpet – that’s a quarter of your daily 6g salt allowance before you’ve even added butter or yeast extract (such as Marmite). And it’s not just because of their size. Per 100g, Warburtons’ regular crumpets contain just as much salt, with 1.48g per 100g, or 0.81g in one crumpet. 

The average crumpet surveyed contained almost as much salt as one and a half packets of ready salted crisps, with 0.62g per crumpet. As CASH nutritionist Sarah Alderton pointed out, most people will eat two or more. 

Gluten free crumpets, on average, are saltier than normal crumpets, containing 1.33g per 100g compared to 1.13g in regular crumpets – a difference of 15%.

Why does it matter if crumpets are salty?

CASH have been exposing foods with unnecessarily high levels of salt for years, highlighting the need for the food industry to put less salt in food products to lower the nation’s blood pressure, and with it, our risk of heart attacks and strokes. In revealing yet another food product with too much salt, they’re worried that the Public Health Responsibility Deal Salt Reduction 2017 targets, set up by the government for the food industry, are not being taken seriously enough. 

Almost half of the crumpets in the survey exceeded the 2017 average salt targets for crumpets of 1.13g salt per 100g – which is the same as the salt target for sausages. With just twelve months to go for all retailers and food manufacturers to meet all the targets, CASH is calling for immediate action to reach the goal of eating no more than 6g salt per person per day (just over 1 tsp salt). 

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK says: “Reducing salt is the most cost effective measure to lower blood pressure and reduce the number of people suffering from strokes and heart disease – one of the commonest causes of death in the UK.  

Why there’s no excuse not to reduce these salt levels

Branded options such as Warburtons tended to be worse than supermarkets’ own brand options, and the difference between the highest- and lowest-salt options clearly show there is no need for them to be so salty. Waitrose’s Essential Waitrose Crumpets for example, as well as their up-market Deep & Delicious Buttermilk Crumpets, contained half the amount of salt per 100g as the Warburtons crumpets (0.75g salt per 100g). 

Crumpets often contain both added salt (sodium chloride) and a raising agent such as baking powder or sodium bicarbonate. Both of these contain sodium – the part of salt that raises our blood pressure. However, there are two major alternative raising agents available – ammonium carbonate and potassium bicarbonate – making it relatively easy to reduce the sodium content of crumpets while keeping them light and fluffy. At the same time, manufacturers can also reduce the salt levels, so further reductions are possible.

How to choose healthier crumpets 

  • Stick to the recommended portion size of one crumpet.  
  • Compare options when you shop to see which has the least salt –own brand products tend to be less salty than branded crumpets. The FoodSwitch UK App compares the options for you.
  • Go easy on the toppings and choose toppings with less salt and fat. For a quick snack try a low fat cheese spread, or make a meal of it with a poached egg or a little peanut butter and sliced banana. These are better for you than yeast extract or grated cheese.
  • If you need your food gluten-free, check the labels of alternative products that might be lower in salt, for example bagels or toasted muffins. But if you can’t resist a crumpet, keep the toppings low in salt.  

Find out more

Read the full survey 

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