Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) and the Association of London Environmental Health Managers (ALEHM) looked at 199 margarita and pepperoni pizzas from local takeaways, pizza chains and leading supermarkets.
They found that the takeaway pizzas were the worst offenders, containing up to two and a half times more salt than the average supermarket pizza.
A pepperoni pizza ordered from the Adam and Eve in Barnet was found to be saltier than seawater, with 2.73g of salt for every 100g of pizza. Anyone who scoffed the entire pizza by themselves would eat no less than 10g of salt.
Half of all the takeaway pizzas surveyed contained the entire 6g daily recommended allowance for salt.
With takeaways not required to provide any form of nutritional labelling for the food they sell, it is difficult for consumers to know exactly what they are eating and choose lower salt options.
In supermarkets, where labelling is compulsory, 72% of the pizzas surveyed met the Department of Health’s recommended salt target of 1g for every 100g of pizza.
Morrisons’s was found to have five of the 10 lowest salt own-brand pizzas surveyed, with its Kitchen Cheese & tomato pizza having just 0.47g of salt per 100g.
“It’s a national disgrace that our health is put at risk; the government is not taking enough action to reduce the amount of salt in the takeaway sector,” says Professor Graham MacGregor, of the Wolfson Institute and Chairman of CASH.
“The supermarkets have made the same pizzas with much less salt – showing how easy it would be for the whole sector to make big salt reductions.
“Salt puts up our blood pressure – the highest risk factor for stroke. Reducing our intake would save thousands of people suffering and dying from a stroke.”