Pizza too salty

In the survey which has been announced today by World Action on Salt & Health (WASH), pizzas are being highlighted as a major source of our salt intake.  The average pizza is too salty.  Coverage in Metro, Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Mail.

The UK survey found that nearly three quarters (73%) of all restaurants and takeaway pizzas (586 out of 802) surveyed contain more salt per pizza than your entire maximum daily recommended salt intake (6 grams per day).

The survey was originally undertaken in 2011.  Since then, despite pressure from public health authorities and the media, 55 pizzas have actually increased their sodium content.

The surveyors highlighted that Papa John’s Stuffed Crust Sausage & Pepperoni and Domino’s Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Passion pizza contain as much as 16g salt per medium-sized pizza (almost 3 times the guideline daily amount).

Another concern is that many of the supermarket pizzas are not being straight with the consumer… Too many as claiming that a portion is 1/4 of a pizza so that the nutrition information looks considerably better, when the vast majority of people will eat a full pizza for themselves.

Why is pizza too salty?

Where is this salt coming from in pizzas?  Most people will know that meat toppings such as pepperoni and sausage will have a high level of salt in them.  However, you may not know that cheese needs to have salt in it as part of the process of making cheese.  Therefore, if you have lots of cheese on a pizza, it will obviously be high in salt.  Also, there can be a surprising amount of salt in the base of the pizza.  Again, salt is useful in the process of making bread (but it’s not essential as we have shown with our products).  Therefore, the worst offenders in this survey are the thick based pizzas (salty bread), with lots of cheese and loads of meaty toppings.  You may think that this is tasty, but it is a dangerous combination…

Why is salt bad for our health?

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of WASH and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Barts & The London School of Medicine, stated,  “Eating too much salt puts up our blood pressure, the major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Reducing salt intake around the world would save millions of lives each year.

We have our own section here – Why is too much salt bad for you?

Taking responsibility for future health of the nation

It was stated in the press release accompanying the survey announcement that, “many manufacturers continue to fail to meet the targets set out by the Department of Health for 2012, and have not signed up to the new Public Health Responsibility Deal Salt Reduction 2017 Pledge.

We are pleased to let you know that Eat Balanced have signed our commitment to this pledge here.  We continue to keep our salt levels as low as possible, but still pack in lots of flavour – see Why we are Different

Why are Eat Balanced not in this survey?

Our pizzas are naturally very low in salt, and they always have been.  We made a decision not to submit our information because we are currently not in the supermarkets.  Having been in the supermarkets and not having a fun experience, we have now changed our strategy, and we are coming back stronger and wiser.  Please stay tuned to see what happens next!  Thanks.

Pizza and 5-a-day – Our opinion

Can pizza be one of your 5 a day?

The potential for pizza providing one of your five-a-day portions of fruit and veg has been in the news a lot over the last day or so (Telegraph, Daily Mail).  Essentially, Public Health England has been considering whether the vegetable (or fruit) content in pizzas could be counted as one of your recommended portion intakes.  As we type, they are just at the consultancy stage, and a no decisions have been made.

What are the facts about 5 a day?

  • The five-a-day recommendations were announced in the UK in 2002 as a result of World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines to increase the global fruit and vegetable consumption in order to try to improve overall health.
  • One “portion” is suggested to be the equivalent of 80g of the fruit or vegetable.
  • The portion can be in various forms (e.g. fresh, frozen, boiled, cooked, dehydrated, juiced)
  • There is a list of what items count as one of your five a day on the NHS page here.
  • It is recommended that you eat more vegetables than fruit, mainly due to the higher sugar content of fruit.  Therefore, 3 veg and 2 fruit would be preferable to 5 fruit.
  • Not all portions of fruit and veg are made equal.  For example, one portion of kale will be far more nutritious than a glass of apple juice, even though both qualify.
  • Although consuming all of your 5 a day is a good achievement, it does not mean that you have eaten a perfect diet that day.
  • You will NOT have achieved a balanced diet by eating all of your five a day.
  • More recent recommendations by academics at University College London are that we should be eating 10 portions.
  • The five a day recommendations where originally intended to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg in their natural form, or as close as possible to that.  Over the last 12 years since they have been launched, more and more companies are jumping on the back of this opportunity to make their products sound more healthy.  However, many of those products have high levels of salt, fats and/or sugars, which can be more damaging than having that portion of fruit or veg in the product.

Not all pizzas are made equal

As you know, by being on this page, not all pizzas are made equal!  As far as we know, we are the only nutritionally balanced pizzas in the world. The vast majority of pizzas are too high in salt and saturated fat.

What would we recommend?

For Public Health England:

We would recommend that the 5-a-day portion should only be granted if the product does not have levels of salt, fat and sugars that are too high (red traffic lights).

For you:

1) If you are keen that you, or your kids, consume one of your five a day, try to keep it in the closest to it’s natural state as possible, because the more processed it is, the fewer the nutrients (e.g. vitamin C is lost with high heat, fibre is lost when juiced or strained)

2) Aim for a balanced diet by understanding why you need all of the nutrients, and where to find them.  See our guide here (