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Interview with CWT Media Campaigner of the Year 2020

Edwina Revel and Georgia Leech are on a mission to improve the health and wellbeing of children and their families. Both Registered Nutritionists with the Association for Nutrition, the team, provide nutrition training for those working in the early years to ensure a consistent approach to delivering key nutrition messages to meet the diverse needs of families.

The team have supported early year’s settings to put nutrition at the heart of their practice from reviewing menus to meet national guidelines and providing training to ensure staff are equipped to support children to achieve a healthy weight, to reduce their risk of dental caries and to promote physical activity.

As public health nutritionists, the team at Early Start Nutrition are passionate about ensuring all children have access to nutritious and affordable food. They believe that giving children the best start in life is the most effective way to address health inequalities by establishing healthy eating habits to take with them into their school years.  Their work comprises support services for children, families and training for health professionals.  They have also developed online tools and work to engage audiences through their social media accounts, enabling them to reach a wider audience, including training of 2,000 Early Years practitioners and health professionals.

How did you feel when you found out you were awarded Media Campaigner of the Year?

Winning an award from The Caroline Walker Trust is a career highlight for the team. As a Registered Nutritionist, it’s been a great way to raise awareness of our work and the importance of communicating messages in a way that supports those we work with to build their knowledge and confidence

What is your advice to other media campaigners?

Media provides a fantastic opportunity to talk about key nutrition topics. It’s a great tool to share positive and practical information to support those you are trying to reach. Planning is key, as is ensuring the information you share is evidence-based and within the remit of your expertise. Know your audience and tailor your resources to meet their needs.

What has been the most rewarding part of your role?

As early years nutritionists, we are so fortunate to work with nursery settings, along with a range of other professionals and of course, families too! Our job is extremely varied; one day, we can be delivering training and the next, we can be writing a blog and creating recipes. It’s really nice to feel that we’re making a difference to the children and families we work with.

What have you gained from the award Media Campaigner of the Year?

The award has helped raise the team’s profile, meaning we’ve reached more families and early year’s professionals. It’s also given us the confidence to further develop our media resources.

How did you celebrate when you found out you won CWT Media Campaigner of the Year?

As we received the award in the middle of a pandemic, we raised a glass over a zoom call. We are looking forward to celebrating with our colleagues soon!

You can read more about Early Start Nutrition award winning work on their CWT Media Campaigner of the Year page 

Interview by Michelle Slater
Registered Nutritionist
CWT Annual Awards Committee Member

© 2021 The Caroline Walker Trust

Interview with CWT Freelance Nutritionist of the Year 2020

Lucy Williamson originally trained and qualified as a Veterinary Surgeon. She later went on to complete a Masters in Nutrition, registered, became a Registered Nutritionist and set up her own Freelance Nutrition Consultancy, combining her love of agriculture and farming with food and health.

As part of her freelance consultancy work, Lucy developed Food LINKS; a project that aims to provide affordable evidence-based nutrition support to help communicate the health benefits of British produce.  Food LINKS creates opportunities for producers to diversity as they seek to adapt to changing food recommendations for public and environmental health.  Lucy works with crop producers as well as building up consumer awareness that dairy, beef and responsibly sourced fish all have a key role as part of a sustainable, balanced diet.  As an experienced vet, Lucy stands out as a freelance Nutritionist with a firm understanding of our agricultural systems and, therefore, the inextricable link between British food with its well-regulated high production standards and public health.

How did you feel when you found out you were awarded the Freelance Nutritionist of the Year award?

I’m just overjoyed to have been given this award that recognises the importance of communicating the value of our fabulous British food for our future health and the passion of those producing it at the start of the food chain. This Year I have learnt more than ever the value of working collaboratively to achieve more, especially when working freelance. I’m proud to be part of our profession reaching out together to inspire better health, and I look forward to forging stronger links between producers, consumers and good food. I can’t thank the Caroline Walker Trust enough for this opportunity.

What is your advice to other freelance nutritionists?

Surround yourself with other people taking similar paths to share and bounce ideas from one another. It can be quite lonely, giving you confidence in connecting with others and not feeling like you’re competing. Use each other to achieve what you want to achieve, e.g. more effectively, quickly or to make it more enjoyable. Connect and collaborate – we are so much stronger together.

What has been the most awarding part of your role as a freelance nutritionist?

Reaching out to the public is something I’ve always enjoyed doing and to be able to share helpful evidence-based information on nutrition. Being able to share that is something I’ve always wanted to do but the award has helped me to find a platform and a voice.

What have you gained from the award Freelance Nutritionist of the Year?

I have gained confidence and belief that the path I took was the right one to take. I’ve also gained focus on my work, and the award has validated this and help spread the word about the work that I do, such working in schools, lecturing and with food producers, which is really novel.

What are the benefits of being recognised by CWT as an inspirational freelance nutritionist?

It gives you the confidence to keep working on new ideas. Being freelance is not an easy route to take, but it’s great that my work and ideas have been recognised and that all the hard work is worth it. Being recognised by the award has also allowed me to connect and work with others.

How did you celebrate when you found out you won Freelance Nutritionist of the Year?

I spent the evening with my family with a glass of Kombucha, followed by some champagne and a big cake! My children were aged 9 and 12 when I went back to university to complete my masters in Nutrition, it was a tough time for my family, who has always supported me, so I was so pleased to share this with them to show them how grateful I was for their support.

What has been your biggest challenge as a freelance nutritionist?

The biggest challenge for me was not being part of a team, so that’s why it is so important to surround yourself the people in a similar field, so you have support.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I was a mentor for a master’s graduate and since have employed her to work a couple of days a week, so it is great to be working in a team environment again. I always find it is more fun and rewarding working with others.

You can read more about Lucy’s award winning work on her Freelance Nutritionist of the Year page

Interview by Michelle Slater
Registered Nutritionist
CWT Annual Awards Committee Member

© 2021 The Caroline Walker Trust

Interview with CWT Food Campaigner of the Year 2020 (joint winner)

Feeding Britain works through partnerships with food banks, local community organisations, politicians and companies to develop, trial, evaluate, and submit as policy recommendations initiatives that prevent, relieve, and abolish hunger, malnutrition, and food security in the United Kingdom.

Their projects aim to help those facing barriers to nutritious food, on the grounds of accessibility or affordability, to overcome them with dignity and without stigma.  Projects include Citizen’s Supermarkets, Children’s Kitchens, Pathways from Poverty and Healthy Holidays.  Each project uses good food as a catalyst for improving people’s overall health and wellbeing – in households covering the entire age spectrum and for tackling poverty in a holistic manner.

Feeding Britain is also extremely successful in gaining favourable policy changes from the Government regarding social security, labour market, cost of living, and children’s nutrition policies.

How did you feel when you found out you were awarded Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

It was a brilliant surprise in the best way possible. It was the coupling of the award with the results we were beginning to see over a period of time that really enabled our team to raise a smile and say against the most challenging backdrop we and our entire network has faced, we have achieved special things, and that was very pleasing to feel that and communicate as a team.

What is your advice to other charity food campaigners?

I always seek our movement and charity to be radical of its goals and pragmatic in the means of achieving those goals. Seeking innovative and, above all else, workable projects, programs and policies, to move us along the road to that broader societal change. My main bit of advice would be, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, and think about what you can do today to change someone’s life even if its a small idea that can make a difference to disadvantage families along the way.

What has been the most rewarding part of your role as a charity food campaigner?

In particular, our work around holiday food provision; it was six years ago this summer the very first regional part of feeding Britain, feeding Birkenhead took place, the food bank showed us the most alarming data on what happens to children and families during the school holidays.

Feeding Birkenhead, we all came together as a community: church, learning centres, and libraries; all these wonderful community assets came together, and we lay on the most entertaining program of activities and meals, and this was a way to carry on school meals for low-income families.

Immediately we began to see the results, and the foodbank reported fewer families with children needing their help as a result. The teachers said the kids were returning to school full of life, more energised and ready to learn; they had stories to tell their mates about activities through feeding, so Birkenhead, we knew we were onto something both popular and effective.

We knew if the feeding Britain network grew geographically, this became a flagship national scheme and then to translate that into a policy recommendation and subsequently into a piece of backbench legislation which then ultimately succeeded in getting a commitment from the government that they would invest taxpayers money in a national program of this sort.

For our staff and volunteers, it showed that we were a part of something special. It gave us that relief, supporting immediate hunger and reintroducing the love of fresh and nutritious food for children and their families.

What have you gained from the award Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

It really cemented the sense of our grass-root partners across the country that in undertaking day to day activities, they are also contributing to a movement that had been recognised and achieving really good systemic changes across the county. It’s their efforts that made this award possible, it’s worth our while being a part of this national movement because of what we are doing, being recognised in such a special way.

What are the benefits of being recognised by CWT as an inspirational Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

The most immediate benefit was seeing the smile on the faces of our team; they plough away at this work day in and day out, so to see them simile when I shared the news that was the most incredible part. Secondary with the Caroline Walker trust we have the most brilliant organisation with an esteem group of people taking the time not only to learn about our work but to recognise our collective effort in such a way it adds to sense of motivation that one might not be barking up the wrong tree when we’re going about our day to day business.

How did you celebrate when you found out you won Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

Me personally, I celebrated by sharing the news with the team; that was celebratory enough for me. Well, in a sense, it was a delayed reaction the wonderful certificate and award arrived in the post, and our team got together in our office and made sure upon unwrapping them to give them pride of place so when we’re at our desks, it’s firmly in the line of sight.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Above all else our organisation aims to offer an effective service that not only relives that immediate need but constantly seeks new innovative ways to prevent it and support children and families. Against any backdrop, that’s a challenge, and for any organisation, that is a challenge. The logistical changes in the past Year and ongoing trends, e.g. cost of materials, sourcing food that we need to offer a good service for families, has been difficult.

How did you overcome these challenges?

It’s thanks to the ingenuity of both our team and the whole network in constantly sharing good practice. Identifying things that work in one area then overcoming challenges to replicate them in another part of the county, that’s the blessing we have in an organisation like ours.

We have people in a network that can prepare a solution or have already done so and share the lessons of that. From our very first days at Feeding Britain we have drawn the collective firepower of voluntary and community sector but also local business, national companies and local and national government, so bringing that whole variety of voices into this common movement, we can all learn from and bring different perspectives that perhaps wouldn’t of occurred to us before which can help us now craft solutions.

Our doors are always open to anyone who shares our purpose, principles and wants to achieve what we want to achieve; yes were a national movement, but we are made up of local and regional partnerships which help bring people around the table who are concerned about their neighbours or people in their towns, cities, district or borough, and that can be a good focal point to get people involved to support children and families.

You can find more information about Andrew’s award-winning Feeding Britain on their Charity Campaigner of the Year Page

Interview by Michelle Slater
Registered Nutritionist
CWT Annual Awards Committee Member

© 2021 The Caroline Walker Trust

Interview with CWT Food Campaigner of the Year 2020 (joint winner)

Five years ago, Hannah Style, RD, became concerned about the rising malnutrition in North London and founded FEAST With Us, a registered charity to provide vulnerable individuals with access to food.  She wanted to create a supportive space where those also suffering from food poverty could get a hearty meal while also learning how to cook with others.

She also wanted to provide a platform for vulnerable adults to engage regularly with nutrition, aiming to ameliorate the negative health consequences of food insecurity in the short term, and food illiteracy in the long term.  FEAST With Us provides a safe, social space where vulnerable adults can cook and eat together, a unique opportunity for marginalised individuals to benefit from the dignity of food choice, the opportunity to learn cooking skills and nutrition theory and develop confidence in the kitchen.

How did you feel when you found out you were awarded Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

Honoured and humbled, it is a privilege to be acknowledged by a pioneering and prestigious body that has paved the way for nutritional guidelines for various vulnerable groups. Eager to enhance our partnership and build guidelines for homeless people together, it would be great to learn from CWT about how to establish nutritional guidelines safely and robustly for this population group. I would like to learn how to inform policy-makers effectively.

What is your advice to other Charity Food Campaigners?

Collaboration is key! Learning from each other and sharing best practices and learning with each other is the best way forward. Fill in for each other and don’t compete; collaborate.

What has been the most rewarding part of your role as a Charity Food Campaigner?

Knowing that food poverty prevention initiatives are being recognised as increasingly important and that the wider community is doing something to ameliorate this growing problem.

What have you gained from the award Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

The network of similar initiatives in the field – would be great to be routinely connected, form a food poverty alliance, and work alongside each other to share best-practice and updates. Would be good for CWT to build the network and lead with nutrition guidelines that can be disseminated across diverse regions and settings. Nutrition focus is key, so many charities don’t have this focus, and it would be great to imprint the nutrition stamp and embed it for all stakeholders.

What are the benefits of being recognised by CWT as an inspirational Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

The recognition amongst interested initiatives and morale boost for the workforce and volunteers are enormously helpful to us. Being part of the network and welcomed into a community with whom we share values.

How did you celebrate when you found out you won Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

I congratulated the team for their efforts and suggested that when lockdown lifts, we can all celebrate in person!

What has been your biggest challenge, and how have you overcome it?

Limiting the number of volunteers in the kitchen and pausing community dining have both been logistical challenges to delivering optimal services. The team have handled this challenge with grace, calm and pragmatism. We are looking forward to reopening our services to allow for community dining.

You can find more information about Hannah’s award-winning work on her Charity Campaigner of the Year Page. 

Interview by Michelle Slater
Registered Nutritionist
CWT Annual Awards Committee Member

© 2021 The Caroline Walker Trust

Interview with CWT Food Hero of the Year 2020

Andrea Zick is a trained chef and has gained a 1st class BSc degree in Nutrition and Health from Roehampton University. Since 2015 she has been working as the PA to the GM at the OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie. Here she leads on their corporate social responsibility projects. In this role, representing the restaurant, she led the business to win the Food Made Good Community Champion by the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2017, with an additional nomination in 2019.

Andrea is involved in a broad range of community projects and initiatives. She continues to use her chef’s skills annually in support of charities such as Action Against Hunger and Crisis and Food Cycle. This engagement was the precursor of her involvement during the COVID crisis with the Bia Project at the Irish Centre Lewisham and a second project helping to set up the OXO Community Kitchen, for which she was nominated as the Food Hero of the Year 2020.

How did you feel when you found out you were awarded Food Hero of the Year? 

Honoured! A few years ago I was at the CWT awards ceremony and was so impressed by the people and organisations who were nominated and won awards back then. I never dreamt I’d be one of them one day and surely not in a year which posed so many challenges to all of us.

What is your advice to others who might want to set up community kitchen projects?

Work as a team and find like-minded people. None of the projects I worked on over the last year would have been successful without others giving their time and their passion. Look especially for those who have skills you don’t have so you can complement each other. Take it step by step and build on your successes and never ever be afraid to ask for help; people are so generous with their expertise and time.

What has been the most awarding part of your role?

Being able to create new dishes out of food that may have otherwise gone to waste. I love the creative process and enjoy seeing the reaction of people when they taste something they didn’t expect to be as tasty as it is. Cooking for vulnerable people should, if done well, be as exciting as dining in a restaurant. The love, care and passion going into the meals will translate into the wellbeing of those eating the food. It’s a funny thing, as those eating the food cooking with passion will feel seen and looked after, and that in turn often gives them the feeling of a warm hug especially important when we cannot hug each other as freely as before.

What have you gained from the award food hero of the Year?

It made me confident enough to apply for a PhD and a charity trustee role. It made me realise that I must set myself new goals. I am now, so to say, an advisory to another CWT award-winning organisation which is incredible as I love what they do, and I hope that I can support them well into the future.

What are the benefits of being recognised by CWT as an inspirational food hero?

The opportunity to connect with like minded people and organisations which can help you to increase your reach and impact.

How did you celebrate when you found out you won Food Hero of the Year?

It was during the 2nd lockdown, and I was at home. I took a bottle of champagne which I had saved for a special day and popped it open with my flatmates who I have gotten to know very well over the last year, and we celebrated together with some bubbles that day.

What has been your biggest challenge setting up community kitchen projects?

With most of them, it was how best to follow the ever-changing government Covid guidelines ensuring that everyone involved in the projects was safe at all times.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I think because I’ve handled risk assessments during my career in many different contexts, I was less taken back by the process of reviewing risks and adjusting measures to make the kitchen, service and deliveries safe and, once again, by working together with others collaboratively, you can learn and overcome most challenges. Very much with the mindset where there is a will, there is a way.

Did anything unexpected come from the project? 

The restaurant has now put community meals into day to day work, e.g. batch cook once a week and link with street food. It’s now part of the business; looking back on a year, we are still trying to include some of our work.

What are your visions for the future?

Finding ways to engage with vulnerable people, getting them to engage with hospitality and possibly thinking of it as a career pathway. For example, getting people to volunteer to cook community meals experience what it’s like to work in hospitality.

You can read more about Andrea’s award winning work on her CWT Food Hero of the Year page. 

Interview by Michelle Slater
Registered Nutritionist
CWT Annual Awards Committee Member

© 2021 The Caroline Walker Trust

Interview with CWT Nutritionist of the Year 2020

Suzanne Fletcher is the founder of Nutrition Scotland, a social enterprise delivering community food and nutrition services based in Glasgow. She has a Masters in Human Nutrition (Public Health) and is an Association for Nutrition regional representative in Scotland.

Suzanne gained experience working in public health nutrition research, NHS health improvement and the third sector before establishing Nutrition Scotland in 2018.  Motivated by her own experiences and values, she wanted to build a business that creates positive social change.  Suzanne works directly with families and individuals living in disadvantaged circumstances to provide free services. A strong collaborative approach has brought about very effective partnership projects with schools, businesses, other statutory and third sector organisations.

How did you feel when you found out you were awarded the Nutritionist of the Year?

Shocked, surprised, delighted, amazed and honoured! There was some very tough competition, so I wasn’t expecting to win the award. Huge amounts of imposter syndrome, so I definitely didn’t (and still don’t) feel deserving of it.

What is your advice to other nutritionists?

Work hard; don’t give up on what you want to do; surround yourself with supportive people and use your education to make positive social changes.

What has been the most awarding part of your role as a nutritionist?

Seeing our social enterprise grow, seeing more awareness-raising and interest in social inequalities and healthy, sustainable diets. The third sector has so many inspirational people working to make a difference; I connect with incredible people every day.  I love community work, working with children, young people and their families, working with schools and other third sector organisations.

Working for yourself is hard work, but my role is so varied, we can make fast decisions, respond quickly and trial different approaches easily. Third sector organisations shone brightly when the pandemic hit because of this ability to be flexible and respond quickly.  I’m in the most rewarding role I’ve ever had; I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile, this drives me.

What have you gained from the award Nutritionist of the Year?

It has raised the profile of Nutrition Scotland. I think it has helped build funder and customer confidence in our services and the delivery of these. Those with little awareness of the different types of nutritional services available can see this endorsement from a very well-respected, evidence-based organisation, which obviously reflects on us and gives them some assurance.

I was also recently nominated by the Human Nutrition Department at the University of Glasgow for the World-Changing Alumni Award. Although I didn’t win, I was highly commended by the committee. I’m so proud of this; at our graduation ceremony, the University highlighted the privilege of education and encouraged us to use this to change the world for the better. This stuck with me, and it was an incredible honour to have this recognised.

What are the benefits of being recognised by CWT as an inspirational nutritionist?

I’ve been working on the Nutrition Scotland venture a lot longer than people realise, since 2016. There’s been a lot of learning, hard work and knockbacks on the way and the CWT award was the first official acknowledgement of support from our profession. I have a constant fear of failure and unending doubt, so it made me very emotional to find out I’d been recognised in this way. It has given me confidence in my goals, my approach and my abilities. There’s a huge psychological benefit to having support and recognition from an organisation that is so well regarded; this helps me through the periods of self-doubt.

How did you celebrate when you found out you won Nutritionist of the Year?

I was having a lockdown walk in the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow with a friend and fellow nutritionist when I found out. She has seen the amount of work put in, heard all the ups and downs and has been one of my biggest supporters. So, it was brilliant to be with her when the news came through and to share the moment.

I returned home to tell everyone, and I enjoyed the huge fuss that was made of me with flowers and cards!  I was really spoilt and blown away to see how proud my family and friends were.

What has been your biggest challenge as a nutritionist?

The biggest challenges have been trying to get the support and attention of those who can help me move forward with Nutrition Scotland, trying to convey a vision and prove a concept with very limited resources in constant development.  Once people start to recognise what you’re doing and offer some support, things start to change; it gets a bit easier, but there are constant challenges, we’re still very early stage.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I have incredible support at home. I couldn’t have committed the time and effort to Nutrition Scotland without the unshakable support of my partner and children.  Tenacity and resilience have been needed in abundance! I block out the doubters (including myself!) and focus on improving by continuing to learn from mistakes and successes.

You can find more information about Suzanne’s award-winning nomination on her CWT Nutritionist of the Year page.

Interview by Michelle Slater
Registered Nutritionist
CWT Annual Awards Committee Member

© 2021 The Caroline Walker Trust

‘Healthy’ Snacks Could Be Sabotaging Our Health as Experts Call for Honest Food Labelling

  • Some healthy’ snacks found to be saltier than the concentration of seawater[i] and could be sabotaging our health, say Action on Salt
  • New product survey reveals just one 45g serve of either Love Corn Salt & Vinegar and Love Corn Habanero Chilli contains more salt than 3.5 bags of Walkers Ready Salted crisps[ii]
  • Over half of ‘healthy’ snacks are considered a high fat, salt and/or sugar (HFSS) food, but the majority do not display colour coded labelling on front of pack
  • Action on Salt call for a restriction on the use of misleading nutrition claims on foods deemed high in fat, salt and sugar and urge Government to appoint a successor to Public Health England to help bring down salt levels across all food

To mark Salt Awareness Week (8-14 March), researchers at Action on Salt (based at Queen Mary University of London) are today calling for a restriction on the use of misleading nutrition claims on unhealthy foods (deemed high in fat, salt and sugar: HFSS). This comes as NEW data reveals some seemingly ‘healthy’ snacks are in fact saltier than the concentration of seawater and could be sabotaging our health.

In an analysis of 119 snacks including dried/roasted pulses and processed pulse snacks (lentil curls, chickpea chips and puffs)[iii], which are often perceived as ‘healthy alternatives’ to the usual snacking options (i.e. crisps and flavoured nuts), the findings are raising serious concerns amongst experts – especially given reports of increased snacking during 2020 compared to pre-Covid[iv][v].

Despite these products being (on average) lower in fat, saturated fat and calories, and higher in fibre compared to standard crisps and flavoured nuts, over one in three (43%) are also high in salt (i.e., more than 1.5g/100g) – a forgotten ingredient that raises our blood pressure and puts us at an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.

The saltiest product surveyed is Eat Real Hummus Chilli & Lemon Flavoured Chips with 3.6g/100g salt, and over 1g salt in a single suggested serve (28g) – more salt than 2 bags of McDonald’s small French fries[vi].

Amongst dried/roasted pulses, corn style snacks were (on average) the saltiest at 1.85g/100g, and more salt than salted peanuts[vii]. The saltiest dried pulse snacks surveyed are Love Corn Salt & Vinegar and Love Corn Habanero Chilli, with 2.8g/100g salt – saltier than the concentration of sea wateri.  Just one 45g serve of either of these snacks (1.3g salt) would provide over a fifth of our maximum daily salt intake[viii] and more salt than 3.5 bags of Walkers Ready Salted crispsii!

 Whilst many products are high in salt, the data also presents a wide variation in salt content for different snacks, demonstrating that they can be made with less salt (Table 1).

Table 1. Examples of products higher and lower in salt for each snack sub-category

Category Sub-category HIGH LOW Difference
Product Name Salt g/100g Product Name Salt g/100g
Dried pulse snacks Corn Love Corn Sea Salt Crunchy Corn 1.5 Inka Snacks Salted Roasted Giant Corn 1.0 1.5 times more salt
Dried Beans Waitrose Crunchy & Savoury Roasted & Salted Habas Fritas 2.18 Hodmedods Roasted Fava Beans Sea Salted 1.0 2.2 times more salt
Dried Chickpeas BRAVE Roasted Chickpeas Sea Salt 1.5 The Happy Snack Co Roasted Chickpeas Lightly Salted 0.6 2.5 times more salt
Dried Peas Harvey Nichols Wasabi Peas 1.9 Hapi Wasabi Flavor Peas 0.75 2.5 times more salt
Legume Mix Graze Lightly Sea Salted Crunch 1.4 Good4U Veggie Protein Salt n’ Pepper Seed mix 0.89 1.6 times more salt
Mixed Nut/Legume Off the Eaten Path Lightly Salted Fava Nut Mix 1.4 Ding Dong Mixed Nuts 0.5 2.8 times more salt
Processed pulse snacks Lentil Snacks Simply 7 Lentil Crisps Jalapeno 3.4 Burts Lentil Waves Thai Sweet Chilli 1.4 2.4 times more salt
Chickpea Snacks Eat Real Hummus Chilli & Lemon Flavoured Chips 3.6 Morrisons Sweet Chilli Chickpea, Purple Sweet Potato & Green Pea 1.35 2.7 times more salt
Other Pulse Snacks  Corners – Pop Veggie Crisps, Peas, Beets and Chickpeas Sea Salt 2.5  Off the Eaten Path Salted Popped Rice & Pea Chips 1.1 2.3 times more salt

Despite more than half (55%) of the products surveyed being high in fat, salt and/or sugar (HFSS)[ix], the majority of products do not display colour-coded nutrition information on front of pack as per government guidance[x]. Instead, most products feature on-pack nutrition claims, which, whilst legal, mislead consumers by creating a distorted ‘health halo’ and discouraging shoppers from scrutinising the ingredients more thoroughly.

For example, the saltiest snack surveyed, Eat Real Hummus Chilli & Lemon Flavoured Chips contains 3.6g salt/100g, and yet the front of pack states ‘40% less fat, Vegan, Gluten free’.

81% of snacks surveyed include a nutrient-based claim on pack (e.g. ‘x kcal per serving’ ‘Less fat’, ‘No added sugar’, ‘Source/High in fibre/protein’), and almost all (95%) include claims such as ‘Gluten free’, ‘Vegan’, ‘All natural’ and ‘No artificial preservatives.

One in three snacks surveyed also specify the use of sea salt, which is often perceived as healthier than standard salt, but in fact research[xi] has shown they all contain the same levels of sodium and are therefore equally damaging to health.

What’s more, the Government recently announced plans to restrict the promotion of some unhealthy food[xii] (i.e. only foods which fall under the current sugar and calorie reduction programmes), yet it is not clear whether these snacks will be included in the programme – even though half (55%) of these seemingly healthier products are HFSS. To ensure salt levels are reduced across all products, including so-called ’healthy’ snacks, it is imperative that Ministers announce the successor to Public Health England, to take on their vital salt reduction work.

Sonia Pombo, Campaign Manager at Action on Salt says:

“We should all be eating more beans and pulses, but there are better ways of doing it, and eating processed snacks high in salt is not one of them. This important survey has put a spotlight on the unnecessary amounts of salt in ‘healthy’ snacks, and the use of nutrition claims on HFSS foods need to be questioned. Instead of misleading their customers, companies should be doing all they can to help us all make more informed decisions, including using front of pack colour coded labels.

 Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Salt says: “Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to lower blood pressure and reduce the number of people suffering from strokes and heart disease. It’s, therefore, a disgrace that food companies continue to fill our food with so much salt – especially those enticing consumers into purchasing these so-called ‘healthy’ snacks when they are the exact opposite. For too long the food industry have been in charge of public health, at our expense; it’s time for the Government to take back control.”

Mhairi Brown, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Action on Salt, says: “This survey brings home how high in salt supposedly ‘healthy snacks’ are: it’s no surprise that we are all eating much more salt than the recommended limit of 6g a day. The UK’s salt reduction programme was once world-leading, and countries around the world are looking to us, but it can only be successful if it is properly monitored. This is why we urgently need a replacement for Public Health England – to make our salt reduction programme world-leading once more.”

Sheena Bhageerutty, Assistant Nutritionist at Action on Salt adds:

“During lockdown many of us have been reaching for a snack more frequently and are often oblivious to exactly what is in our favourite food. Despite some seemingly ‘healthier’ snack products being on average lower in saturated fat, fat and calories compared to nuts or standard crisps, some are significantly higher in salt. But taste doesn’t have to just mean salt; there are lots of other delicious flavours out there that won’t harm your health.”

ENDS

National PR – David Clarke:  [email protected] M: 07773 225516

Website www.actiononsalt.org.uk

Notes to editors:

About Action on Salt

Action on Salt is a group concerned with salt and its effects on health, supported by 22 expert scientific members. Action on Salt is successfully working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high salt diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of salt in processed foods as well as salt added to cooking, and at the table.

Up to 2011, the UK salt reduction programme, under the Food Standards Agency (FSA), led the world and had already saved 18,000 strokes and heart attacks per year – with £1.5 billion a year in NHS healthcare saving costs, according to NICE.

On 7th September 2020 PHE published a new set of voluntary salt targets for industry to achieve by 2024. However, setting targets without enforcement has been shown to have little effect, as demonstrated by the failed Responsibility Deal and the lack of progress made by the food industry on the previous set of targets. What is required is a clear and transparent monitoring programme, to include annual progress reports and strong engagement with the whole sector, along with case studies of successful reformulation to aid industry-wide reformulation

References

[i] Atlantic seawater contains 1.0g of sodium per 100g, which equates to 2.5g of salt per 100g
[ii] Walkers ready salted crisps contains 0.35g salt in a 25g bag https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/299913390
[iii] Survey details. Please see Action in Salt’s ‘Salt Contnet of Pulse-based snacks: A Technical Report’ for more detail. Action on Salt surveyed pre-packaged savoury snacks which are often perceived as healthier alternatives to usual snacking options (i.e. crisps and flavoured nuts), available from major retailers; Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
Nutrition information was initially obtained in November 2020 from foodDB (a University of Oxford research project funded by the NIHR Biomedical Centre in Oxford) and verified online via retailers’ and manufacturers websites. Additional data was collected from product packaging bought instore using the FoodSwitch Data Collector app on 12th February 2021, and all data was shared with manufacturers and retailers for verification.
[iv] A survey commissioned by EIT, reporting on eating behaviours across Europe found Britons snacked more (27%) than any other European country https://www.eitfood.eu/news/post/eit-food-report-reveals-lasting-impact-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-european-food-behaviours.
[v] Public Health England report Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on grocery shopping behaviours – found increase in volume sales of savoury carbohydrates and snacks (19%) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/932350/Grocery_Purchasing_Report.pdf
[vi] A small portion of McDonalds French fries contains 0.44g salt https://www.mcdonalds.com/gb/en-gb/product/fries-small.html
[vii] KP salted peanuts contains 1.3g/100g salt https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/300201309
[viii] Maximum daily intakes for an adult is 6g/day, about a level teaspoon. SACN Salt & Health Report 2003
[ix] Products high in fat, salt and/or sugars (HFSS) are classified by the Department of Health Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM) – foods scoring 4 or more points and drinks scoring 1 or more are classified as HFSS.
[x] Government criteria for colour coding on a front of pack label https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/566251/FoP_Nutrition_labelling_UK_guidance.pdf.
[xi] In 2011 Action on salt published a survey looking at the sodium content of gourmet salts. http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/news/surveys/2011/gourmet-salts/
[xii] Currently the proposed restrictions are only taking into account categories included in calorie and sugar reduction programmes, not categories under the salt reduction programme

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