AUSTRALIA, Canberra. The alternatives might be plant-based, gluten-free, organic and vegan, but many meat-free products are highly processed and packed with salt, making them more stealthy than healthy.
A new report from The George Institute for Global Health, VicHealth and the Heart Foundation revealed meat-free bacon had the highest average amounts of salt (2g salt per 100g), containing well over a third of a day’s worth of salt, followed by falafels (1.3g salt per 100g) and meat-free sausages (1.3g salt per 100g), which contained over a quarter. But vegan pie was the saltiest product, containing half of the daily recommended salt intake in just one serve. The recommended daily maximum for salt intake is less than a teaspoon, or 5 g, but Australians are consuming nearly double that.
The report analysed the salt content in more than 560 meat alternative products on supermarket shelves from 2010 to 2019.
Other key findings were:
- Of the 190 products surveyed in 2019, the highest average salt content was in meat-free bacon (2g salt per 100g), followed by falafels (1.3g salt per 100g) and meat-free sausages (1.3g salt per 100g).
- The number of falafel products increased by 380% between 2010 and 2019 and had the largest range in salt content with Monjay Mezza Traditional Falafel and Spinach Falafel (3g of salt per 100g) 10 times saltier than Naturally Falafel varieties (0.3g of salt per 100g).
- The number of meat-free burger products increased by 289% between 2010 and 2019, with the Fry's Family Burgers Quinoa & Brown Rice Protein (1.7g of salt per 100g; 1.4g salt per 80g serve) six times saltier than the Unreal Co. Italian Beefy Burger with onion (0.3g salt per 100g; 0.4g salt per 130g serve).
- The highest salt product per serving was the Bean Supreme Laksa pie, which contained 50% of an adult’s recommended daily salt intake (2.5g salt per 220g serve).
- On average, flavoured tofu contained nearly 12 times more salt than plain tofu (flavoured tofu: 1g salt vs plain tofu: 0.09g salt).
Source: Heart Foundation