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Alert over sodium in pork

Steven Morris
Wednesday September 22, 2004
The Guardian

Pork steaks injected with water, in what is a common practice among suppliers to large supermarkets, contain up to six times more sodium than an unadulterated piece of meat, an investigation revealed yesterday.

Trading standards officers found the amount of sodium introduced to ensure that added water is retained in the meat was, in one case, equal to almost a third of the recommended daily intake of salt.

The findings come a week after the government launched a 4m campaign to combat excessive salt consumption.

Consumer and health experts expressed dismay at the results of the investigation and called on the food industry to halt the practice of adding wa ter to pork. The Food Standards Agency, which is leading the government's salt campaign, expressed concern.

Trading standards officers in Shropshire highlighted in July that Britain's chains were "watering down" their pork and, in some cases, selling it as a premium product.

The officers carried out more tests on the meat and were surprised at the levels of sodium they found. They claim a typical 150g (5oz) serving of pork with no added water contains the sodium equivalent of 5% of the recommended daily intake of salt.

In the worst case, a piece of pork with added water from one of the major supermarkets was found to contain the equivalent of 30.5% of the recommended daily intake.

David Walker, who headed the investigation, said: "Our original concern was that people were unaware that some supermarkets and manufacturers had started to add water to raw pork.

"We now find they are also adding a significant quantity of sodium-based ingredients and salt. These products should perhaps come with a government health warning."

The trading standards officers did not name the supermarkets. But Tesco, the Co-op, Sainsbury's and Asda all stock watered-down pork.

A spokesman for the Co-op said the practice of adding water and sodium was industry-wide, but said the chain would look at how it could reduce salt levels in its pork.

Asda said its pork products contained 0.8g of salt. The recommended daily intake is 6g.