Chinese Ready Meals Should Come With Health Warnings About Their Salt Content: Campaign Group

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One of the Chinese takeaway dishes analyzed by the campaign group Action on Salt contains five times the amount of salt present in McDonald’s Big Mac. Here's why this amount of salt in food could be dangerous to one's health.  ( Leon Neal | AFP/Getty Images )

Health experts say that Chinese takeaways and ready meals should carry health warnings so consumers would be aware of their salt content.

Too Much Salt Intake Linked To Degenerative Health Conditions

Consuming too much salt has been associated with the development of degenerative health conditions, which include heart disease.

Health experts said that reducing the amount of salt intake is considered as the most cost-effective means to reduce the number of people who die or suffer from strokes and heart diseases.

Findings of a new survey by UK-based Action on Salt, however, suggest that there is an urgent need to reduce the amount of salt in popular takeaway dishes and ready meals.

Salt In Chinese Ready Meals

Some of these meals contain half of an adult's recommended daily allowance is only one dish. Results of the survey, which was released on Tuesday, revealed that the worst-offending Chinese takeaway dishes contain about the same amount of salt consumed in five McDonald's Big Macs.

"The current target is to reduce salt intake to an average of 6g a day for adults and even less for children, from the current average of 8.1g a day," Salt on Action said. "This reduction will have a large impact on reducing strokes by approximately 22% and heart attacks by 16% saving 17,000 lives in the UK as well as other health benefits for the population."

The survey, however, found that nearly half of 141 supermarket Chinese ready meals analyzed contain over 1.8 grams of salt per portion, which is high enough to carry a red notification label on the pack.

Of the six dishes from six Chinese restaurants analyzed, 97 percent were found to contain at least 2 grams of salt. More than half had in excess of 3 grams of salt per dish, or the equivalent of half the maximum recommended daily salt intake of adults.

More salt is added when consumers add side dishes and dipping sauces to their meals as these provide nearly another 4 grams of salt per person. An additional serving of egg and fried rice could mean an extra 5.3 grams and 2.3 grams of salt.

"The food industry must be held to account, with new salt targets set by the government to ensure the salt content of these meals is reduced to much lower levels, and fast. If the food industry don't comply, they should be made mandatory," said Sarah Alderton, an assistant nutritionist at Action on Salt.

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