Nanny State Attempting to Strike Again re Salt in Cheese

Unnecessary’ high salt levels in cheese, health group warns (www.bbc.co.uk)

Large amounts of unnecessary salt are being added to cheese, the health pressure group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash), has warned.The group analysed 722 cheese portions of 30g each and found many contained more salt than a bag of crisps.The saltiest type was roquefort at 1.06g per 30g. But within varieties salt content varied – suggesting it is possible to reduce levels. The Dairy Council said cheese provided a wide range of nutrients.

Too much salt is known to raise blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.The survey looked at over 30 different cheese varieties from seven supermarkets over four months up to November 2012, assessing salt content in a standard 30g portion size.

The saltiest cheese varieties were the blue cheese Roquefort, with 1.06g of salt in a 30g portion, feta and halloumi. The cheese varieties with the lowest salt levels were mozzarella, emmental and wensleydale.Within cheese varieties there was also a large variation in salt content between products.

The survey found that for gorgonzola, one cheese product was nearly six times more saltier than the least salty, and large differences were also seen in wensleydale and cheddar. Cash said salt intake should be less than 6g a day – about a teaspoon – and urged consumers to choose either a lower salt version or eat less cheese.Cash chairman Prof Graham MacGregor said: “Even small reductions will have large health benefits. For every one gram reduction in population salt intake we can prevent 12,000 heart attacks, stroke and heart failure, half of which would have been fatal.

“The Department of Health must now stop its delaying tactics and set new much lower targets for cheese manufacturers, and make sure they achieve them. The cheese industry must comply if we are to save the maximum number of lives”

Benefits of cheese 

But others warned the conclusions Cash has drawn from its research paint an incomplete picture.

Dr Judith Bryans, director of the Dairy Council, a non-profit-making organisation, said: “The Cash survey is mixing up the effect of cheese on health with the effect of salt on health.

“Cheese provides a wide range of nutrients including protein, vitamins and important minerals such as calcium.

“Salt is an integral part of the cheese-making process. It is not added for taste or flavour but for safety and technical reasons.

“Cheese manufacturers have worked very hard to reduce salt levels in their products and worked constructively and positively with government agencies to do this whilst producing products which are nutritious, safe and acceptable to the consumer.”

Around 700,000 tonnes of cheese are consumed by UK households a year, and cheese is the third biggest contributor of salt to the UK diet after bacon and bread.

The Department of Health said it was tackling salt levels in food.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: “Soon we will have a single front-of-pack labelling scheme which will make it easier for people to compare products, and choose the healthier options available.

“Through the Responsibility Deal, we are in discussions with industry about how they can further reduce the salt levels in their food.”

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4 Comments

Filed under Ribblesdale Cheese

4 responses to “Nanny State Attempting to Strike Again re Salt in Cheese

  1. Please never reduce the salt in your cheeses! Extended longevity doesn’t buy increased quality of life. I’d rather die young and happy with good cheese than add another 5 years slowly crumbling after an anhedonic life of eating bland rubberised cheese-like product.

    • Hi Lisa, couldn’t agree more with you and we won’t be and besides, our salt levels are nowhere near the recommended maximum. As far as I know, at the moment, there is no legislation telling cheese makers how much salt per 100g of cheese you can have, but our delightful government would like to. A little like the govt trying to put the price of alcohol up to a set amount per unit. Just ridiculous. God help this country, where are we going….we seem to be treated as if we are imbeciles….that’s a nanny state for you.

      With best wishes

      Iona

  2. They have got it all out of proportion! If I have cheese on toast, I don’t add salt, just a little pepper if necessary. If I have tomatoes, mushrooms or egg on toast, I then add salt, especially as I use unsalted butter. They should realise that whilst cheese does contain salt, you automatically adjust your seasoning to compensate! Cheese contains many valuable nutrients which would not be found in bags of crisps etc. They should turn their attention to chemical-ridden junk food instead.

    • Hello again, Rosemary

      I couldn’t agree with you more. This hysterical warmongering is just plain ridiculous and sensationalist, especially the claim that a slice of cheese contains more salt than a bag of crisps. Totally agree with you that there are a lot of nutritional benefits to be had in cheese, moreover, it is well documented that cheese and dairy products play an important part of every day diet.

      Absolutely, why not tax junk food out of existence, like McDonalds or Burger King?

      The government appears hell bent on passing the buck to the tax payer, so why not make a junk food tax where there is little nutritional value to certain food items if they are so concerned about the medical costs of obese people.

      Salt in cheese, in my book is a total non issue and besides, I think they are taking extreme cases. I know from our nutritional analyses we have done from time to time that our salt levels are very low, but you need to salt in cheese a) to expel whey when making it, b) as a preservative and help arrest the acidity and c) to add flavour.

      Complete and utter twaddle, these CASH people spout.

      On that rant, thanks for e-mailing and let’s see what happens.

      With best wishes

      Iona

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