More salt in one bowl of soup than you need all day?

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© Melissa Hom/Corbis

Public health officials campaigning to reduce our excessive salt consumption—Americans generally eat twice the recommended amount each day—often point out that a societal approach to change is essential, as most of the salt we consume is already in food before we even pick up the shaker. Dining out isn’t exactly a low-sodium experience. The British salt-reduction initiative, Consensus Action on Salt and Health, (CASH) pointed out in the past that restaurant meals can often contain as much as 15 grams of salt, nearly three times the recommended amount. And, as the Telegraph reports, a new study from CASH analyzing salt content in packaged soup products from many popular food chains—including Pret a Manger and Caffe Nero—reveals that many contain more sodium in a single portion than health officials recommend for an entire day’s consumption.

Eating some salt is encouraged, of course, to help maintain blood pressure and assist with nerve and muscle function, for example, but in moderate amounts. People with hypertension are advised to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day—the equivalent of less than 3/4 teaspoon of salt. This latest study revealed that, while food manufacturers have partially responded to voluntary salt reduction campaigns, the changes are incredibly inconsistent across the industry. As Graham MacGregor, chairman of the U.K.’s salt-reduction initiative, told the Telegraph:

”The majority of the food industry is slowly taking out the salt from food, including these soups. We commend the progress so far, however they haven’t gone far enough if we are to save the maximum number of lives… This survey shows that some companies are not co-operating. The public should boycott these products so we don’t have to resort to legislation.”

The findings may be of particular interest to public health officials in the U.S., who, through the National Salt Reduction Initiative, are currently advocating for voluntary salt reduction from American food manufacturers.