Your favourite hot chocolate could be as salty as sea water

Lead researcher Clare Farrand said a typical single slice of bread contained more than 20 per cent of the recommended daily maximum of salt.

Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate is one of many products being called out as part of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH)'s call for an immediate reduction on the nation's salt intake.

A new survey from Cash found that, out of 28 food categories analysed, only bread rolls has so far met the 2017 maximum, but not the average, salt target and are alarmed by the lack of action so far by manufacturers and Public Health England.

Researchers, including those from Queen Mary University of London in the United Kingdom, analysed about 28 food items including hot chocolate, chips, burgers and French dressing.

Too much salt in our diets is causing up to 14,000 preventable deaths every year according to health campaigners.

In 2009, the federal government set salt reduction targets for bread in an attempt to reduce global salt intake by 30 per cent by 2025, an aim set by the World Health Organisation.

The product survey found that so far only bread rolls had met this year's target for the maximum amount of salt, although even in this category the average target is still being missed. This is a 60g difference which is equivalent to 130 bags of Walkers Ready Salted crisps.

Among the more surprising findings was the shock that Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate contained 0.8g salt per serving, five times more talk (per 100g) the maximum salt reduction target for beverages.

Atlantic seawater contains one gramme of sodium per 100 millilitre (ml), the same as the chocolate powder analysed, "The Telegraph" reported.

She said the company continually worked to improve products' nutritional profile.

Targets for 2017 were set out in 2014 and Cash agreed to monitor the scheme independently by recording the salt content of common foodstuffs in United Kingdom shops and supermarkets.

"Soup by its nature is a savoury product and some recipes and varieties require more or less seasoning in order for the taste to be acceptable to the consumer".

The NHS urges shoppers to compare nutrition labels on food packaging, be it pizza, crisps or cereal, and choose the item lowest in salt.

"We will continue to deliver further reductions in salt, and indeed other nutrients, on an ongoing basis in line with expert guidance to help deliver the 2017 salt targets".

She said: "The food industry has reduced the amount of salt found in our foods by 11% in recent years, which is encouraging progress".

And food producers, they say, are not meeting voluntary reduction targets because it would drive down their profits.

A sandwich is seen as a healthy lunch choice for many Australians, but those two slices of bread could contain more salt than a packet of chips, a new study has found. But in reality, bread and cereal products are the worst offenders, contributing almost a quarter of salt in the UK's diet.

Its campaign director Katharine Jenner said: "Salt is the forgotten killer".

"We congratulate the other, more responsible manufacturers that have successfully achieved them, or are on track to meet them by the end of the year - which shows it is possible".

  • Joanne Flowers