Two rashers of bacon saltier than eight packets of crisps

Survey findings by Action on Salt reveal the astonishing and varying levels of salt found in bacon – the second biggest contributor to salt in the UK diet.

Frying bacon. Photo credit: Pixabay

Frying bacon. Photo credit: Pixabay

Action on Salt found that of the 171 bacon products surveyed, 86% have a salt concentration equal to or greater than seawater. Two rashers of bacon can provide as much as 2.84g salt – that’s more salt than 8 bags of ready salted crisps.

Some bacon contains nearly four times more salt than competitor brands, which Action on Salt believes shows that lower salt bacon is easily possible. The saltiest bacon offender was Tesco Finest Unsmoked 8 Wiltshire Cure Back Bacon Medallions with a staggering 5.3g/100g, more than twice the concentration of seawater, and the equivalent salt content of 1 Burger King Hamburger in just 1 rasher.

The group of experts behind the survey is urging the newly formed government to reignite a comprehensive salt reduction programme, with mandatory targets for salt levels in products that all companies would be expected to meet and strict penalties / levies for those who fail to comply.

Sonia Pombo, Campaign Manager for Action on Salt says: 

“Given the fact that bacon is the biggest contributor to salt after bread in the UK diet, and that we are still far exceeding our daily salt targets, it’s shocking to learn that food manufacturers are still ignoring the voluntary salt reduction targets and putting profits before the health of the nation.  We have seen great success with the soft drinks industry levy in driving reformulation14, and the government must now consider doing the same for key contributors of salt in UK diet, such as bacon. This way, everyone’s health benefits, including the socially deprived.”

Action on Salt have these top tips for shopping

  • Check the label and use the FoodSwitch app to find healthier options 
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Some manufacturers declare unrealistic portion sizes (e.g. one rasher) or reduce the size of the rasher so that overall nutrition information is altered. 
  • Try to avoid eating bacon with other salty ingredients such as bread, cheese, baked beans and instead have grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, no added salt baked beans or eggs
  • Bacon can also be high in fat, so grill your rashers to reduce the amount of fat
  • For a healthier bacon (and gammon), soak in water and rinse in hot water to remove some of the salt and remove the rind to reduce saturated fat
  • If you want to have ketchup, mustard or brown sauce with your bacon, check the labels first and choose the lower salt options as these can be another source of hidden salt
  • Alternatives to pork tend to be lower in saturated fat and salt, e.g. turkey rashers, or plant based options, but they still contain added salt
  • When eating out, ask for ‘less salt please’ and tell the waiter if you find your meal too salty

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