Health campaigners call for ‘honest’ labelling on so-called healthy snacks

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The group analysed 118 snacks including dried/roasted pulses and processed pulse snacks such as lentil curls, chickpea chips and puffs, ​which are often perceived as healthy alternatives to the usual snacking options such as crisps and flavoured nuts.

Despite these products being on average lower in fat, saturated fat and calories, and higher in fibre compared to standard crisps and nuts, over one in three (43%) contained more than 1.5g/100g of salt – often more than that in crisps and nuts. KP salted peanuts contain 1.3g/100g salt, while Walkers Ready Salted crisps contain 0.35g of salt in a 25g bag.

Dried/roasted pulses, corn style snacks were on average the saltiest at 1.85g/100g. The saltiest dried pulse snacks surveyed were Love Corn Salt & Vinegar ​and Love Corn Habanero Chilli​, with 2.8g/100g salt. Just one 45g serve of either of these snacks (1.3g salt) would provide over a fifth of a person’s maximum daily salt intake and more salt than 3.5 bags of Walkers Ready Salted crisps, the group said. UK adults are recommended to eat no more than 6g of salt a day.

Health halo

Despite more than half (56%) of the products surveyed being high in fat, salt and/or sugar most did not display colour coded nutrition information on front of pack as per voluntary Government guidance.

Instead, most featured on-pack nutrition claims, which according to Action on Salt mislead consumers by creating a distorted ‘health halo’ that discourages shoppers from scrutinising the ingredients more thoroughly. For example, the saltiest snack surveyed, Eat Real Hummus Chilli & Lemon Flavoured Chips​ contained 3.6g salt/100g, with the front of pack stating ‘40% less fat, Vegan, Gluten free’.

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