Cheese industry blasts salt study

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The cheese industry has hit back at a controversial new report which claims “alarming” amounts of salt are hidden in cheese.

A new report, published this morning by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), claimed that out of 772 cheese products studied, “many” were unnecessarily high in salt.

CASH claimed that the nation’s favourite cheese, Cheddar, contained more salt than a packet of crisps, at 0.52g per 30g portion.

Cheese was a big contributor of salt in the diet, said Graham MacGregor, CASH chairman and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute.

“Even small reductions will have large health benefits. For every one gram reduction in the population’s salt intake, we can prevent 12,000 heart attacks, stroke and heart failure.”

He is calling on the Department of Health to set lower salt targets for cheese manufacturers.

However, The Dairy Council said the CASH survey gave an incomplete picture and claimed it was wrong to draw the health conclusions that it had.

Cheese provided a wide range of nutrients, including protein, vitamins and important minerals such as calcium and had not been shown to cause heart disease or stroke, said Dr Judith Bryans, director of the Dairy Council.

“Salt is an integral part of the cheese making process. It is not added for taste or flavour but for safety and technical reasons,” she said.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey showed that cheese contributed only 4% of the nation’s salt intake, Bryans added.

The CASH survey included 30 types of own label and branded cheeses from seven supermarkets and was carried out between August and November this year.

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