There has been some buzz about how salty certain foods are. We all should know that we need to watch our salt intake for our health but I am wondering whether a recent article by the Guardian UK talking about the dangers of the saltiness of Chinese food is intentional in trying to victimise and discriminate against Chinese takeaways and those who own it. Maybe I am oversensitive but I do know that Chinese takeaways are part of the history of many Chinese who migrated to the UK made a living and raised their family. I find it odd that Chinese food is specifically being outed – what about MacDonald’s? What about steakhouses? what about Italian food?
UK health experts state that Chinese takeaways and ready meals should all have some type of health warning signs on their menus and packaging. They also claim that Chinese food has 5 times more salt than a McDonald’s Big Mac and many will have so much salt that it makes up more than half of an adult’s daily allowance. I read this and was like WTF – I get that yes, some Chinese food do have a lot of salt, but why target just Chinese food? Seriously! I can think of so many other foods which are not Chinese food which are extremely salty AF.
Supermarket Chinese ready meals were also laden with salt, with some containing more than the amount found in two Pizza Express margherita pizzas, the report reveals. Some rice dishes contained more salt than 11 bags of ready salted crisps.
Action on Salt is leading a group of health experts in calling on Public Health England to set tough new salt targets, make front-of-pack labelling mandatory and to follow New York’s lead by requiring chains to put warning labels on high-salt dishes. They are also urging the food industry and restaurants to reduce salt by reformulating takeaways and ready meals.
Of 141 supermarket Chinese ready meals analysed, nearly half (43%) were high in salt – containing more than 1.5g/100g, or 1.8g per portion – which would trigger a red “traffic light” label.
Accompanying rice dishes, spring rolls and prawn crackers – and soy sauce – can pile on the salt in a Chinese meal. Iceland’s takeaway egg fried rice has a “shocking” 4.1g salt per 350g pack – more than in 11 bags of ready salted crisps.
Dishes from six Chinese restaurants were also analysed, with 97% found to contain 2g of salt or more. More than half (58%) contained in excess of 3g of salt per dish – half an adult’s maximum recommended daily intake.
Hmmmm…. again I stick by my position on this targeting. British Chinese Konrad Shek wrote a piece for NeeHao expressing his concerns over this intentional targeting and I tend to agree with him. Here are a few excerpts of what he said:
But if we are talking about excessive salt levels in takeaway food, why just single out Chinese food? I’m sure quite a few of you out there have tasted some salty Indian takeaways, pizzas and kebabs in your lifetime. To justify this on the basis that it is the country’s most popular takeaway just seems flimsy.
Action on Salt’s press release is well written and gives the impression that their research was thorough. So, it surprised me to find in the notes section that the research was based on a sample size on just six restaurants in London’s Chinatown. They also claimed that this data gave a good representation of the typical salt values in Chinese restaurants across the country. Getting accurate figures on how many Chinese takeaways or restaurants in the UK is quite difficult but one could safely assume that it numbers in the thousands. Any decent statistician worth their salt (excuse the pun!) would tell you that six out of several thousand is statistically insignificant. Worrying still, they claimed that the restaurants were chosen at random, but one of the random restaurants still included Wong Kei’s which to my mind makes it less of a random sample. Wong Kei’s isn’t a restaurant that I frequent or necessarily recommend but it is known among certain circles for being value for money and back in its heyday it had the notorious reputation for being one of the restaurants with the rudest service. I ask Action on Salt that if they have ever visited good Chinese restaurants such as Royal China, Phoenix Palace or Michelin starred Hakksan? Should their customers be greeted with health warning signs on entry or will Action on Salt admit that their sampling area didn’t extend more than a radius of 500m?
I agree. I do think that studies and research into salt is important as its all about our health but it really needs to not just single out a particular ethnicity of food. With all the sinophobia in our world today it seems just convenient that Chinese food are being targeted. I will leave it here.
Image via Guardian UK
To read the original article, please click on: Some Chinese ready meals found to have more salt than 11 bags of crisps