1. ITV Report

Health campaign group warns of 'shocking' levels of salt in branded sausages

Britons eat more than 175,000 tonnes of sausages each year. Credit: PA

Popular branded sausages contain a "shocking" amounts of salt, a survey has found.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) warned a sausage sandwich contains almost two thirds of an adult's maximum daily recommended salt intake.

The group said with just three weeks left to reach 2017 targets set by Public Health England, many producers had failed to reduce salt in their products.

Britons eat more than 175,000 tonnes of sausages each year - or 61g of salt per person, the same as 134 packets of ready salted crisps.

The average salt content of sausages is 1.3g per 100g, the campaign group said, while calling for new mandatory targets as the food industry had "failed to protect the public's health voluntarily."

According to the research, the highest levels of salt was found in Richmond's Skinless Pork Sausages at 2.3g per 100g; the lowest levels were in The Co-operative's Irresistible Sweet Chilli Sausages at 0.75g per 100g.

Asda's Extra Special Bacon & Maple Syrup option contained 1.1g of salt per sausage, more than double the same retailer's Extra Special Lincolnshire Pork Sausages. Quorn's vegetarian Best of British Sausages contained 1.9g of salt per 100g, or 2.2g in two sausages - more than the salt content of half a Pizza Hut Margherita pizza.

"The UK has led the world on salt reduction but this survey clearly shows that many companies are not co-operating with the current voluntary policy," said Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, and chairman of Cash.

"Public Health England, who is now responsible, must get tough on those companies not complying and set new mandatory targets to be achieved by 2020 without further delay.

"Otherwise, thousands of people will die from unnecessary strokes and heart attacks every year. Salt reduction is the most cost-effective and most successful public health preventive measure made to date, and it is a national tragedy that it is being allowed to fail."

Dr Alison Tedstone, Public Health England's chief nutritionist, said: "Our salt consumption has decreased over the last decade - a loaf of bread has 40% less than it used to. However, some products are still too high in salt and we know this can be reduced further.

"We've been very clear with the food industry on the importance of meeting the 2017 salt targets. We'll report on their progress next year and will provide advice to Government on the next steps."

A spokeswoman for Quorn said: "Quorn produces a range of sausages, with its bestselling Quorn Sausages being low in salt and highlighted on the front of pack.

"The range featured by Cash is Quorn's Best of British Sausages which offers slightly more indulgent sausages. Whilst they are higher in salt, as clearly marked on pack, they are still low in saturated fat."