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Cornflakes worse than crisps?

Byline: By Graham Hiscott

A bowl of some breakfast cereals contains more salt than a packet of crisps, according to research published yesterday.

The campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) analysed the salt content of more than 300 breakfast cereals.

Just over a third classified as high in salt under guidelines from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). A number were so salty they had the same concentration as seawater.

CASH is warning consumers to be aware of the "hidden" salt in cereals, particularly as the products are popular with children.

Researchers compared the salt content of cereals with Walkers ready-salted crisps which have 1.5g of salt per 100g or 0.5g in a 34.5g bag.

Around a quarter of the cereals had more salt per 100g than the crisps. The saltiest cereal was Quaker Oat Krunchies with 3g of salt per 100g of the product or 1.5g in a 50g serving.

Four other cereals in the survey were as salty as seawater ( 1.25g of salt per 50g. They were Nestle Golden Grahams, Sainsbury's Low Price Cornflakes, Somerfield Makes Sense Cornflakes and Asda Smart Price Cornflakes. Best selling brand Kellogg's Cornflakes has slightly less at 1.19g of salt per 50g bowl.

Cornflakes feature heavily elsewhere in the list of high salt cereals. This is thought to be due to the amount needed to boost the flavour of the core ingredient maize.

Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure, which triples the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Malcolm Kane, an independent food technologist and former head of food safety at supermarket chain Sainsbury's, is now a member of CASH.

He said: "Breakfast cereals do not taste as salty as crisps because the salt in formulated and processed cereals such as Oat Krunchies and Golden Grahams will be locked within the structure of the product and will therefore not produce an immediate taste impact.

"By comparison, the salt in crisps is a surface dusting and will produce an immediate taste impact, dissolving in the saliva." Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and chairman of CASH, said: "People think that cereals are a healthy breakfast, and in some cases this is true.

"But people need to be aware that some breakfast cereals are as salty as the sea.

"No parent would think that a bag of crisps represents a healthy breakfast for their children but in many cases cereals actually contain more salt than crisps."

The survey highlighted a large number of cereals available with low or virtually no salt in them at all. They included Weetabix, Jordans Natural Muesli and a number of supermarket own-brand products.

Experts advise adults and children aged 11 to 14 to have no more than 6g of salt a day. Children aged seven to 10 should have no more than 5g of salt a day, four to six-year-olds 3g, one to three-year-olds 2g, seven to 12 months 1g, and under six months less than 1g a day.

Sainsbury's said it was planning to relaunch its Low Price Cornflakes with 44pc less salt. Asda has reformulated the recipe of its Smart Price Cornflakes, halving the salt content.

Jamie Sitzia, spokesman for Somerfield, said: "Trials are currently underway to reduce the salt content in Somerfield Makes Sense Cornflakes by more than 20pc."
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 13, 2004
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