The Salties and the Fry-Up

The salt police, it seems have our great British fry-up in their sights.

But Government targets are about to put the great British breakfast under threat.

Butchers and other food retailers say health diktats to reduce salt levels could ruin the taste of some of our favourite dishes, with producers of bacon and sausages facing the greatest difficulties.

I am reminded of Jim Hacker’s campaign to save the British banger. Although in this case the threat is real rather than imagined.

As the article makes clear, salt is part of the preservation process for bacon as well as giving it a distinctive flavour.

The food industry does itself no good by conceding to these zealots. Any concession merely confirms the principle, all that is left is the amount to be made and each one leads to another. It’s like that comment from the Robert Redford film whereby he tries to entice a woman to sleep with him for a million dollars. When she asks sharply what he thinks she is, he replies that this has been ascertained, all that is now left to negotiate is the price.

Fortunately some are fighting back:

Some independent butchers have said they have no intention of changing cherished recipes to meet the demands of the “salt police”.

Good. And we should support them by buying our bangers and bacon from them. Certainly I have no intention of reducing my salt intake to satisfy the obsession of the control freaks. And let us not forget that these people are not confining themselves to our diets and whether we smoke. Alcohol is once more a target of these temperance merchants. As Dick Puddlecote says in his post, we need to stand together. It doesn’t matter if smoking or drinking isn’t your bag –  or if you don’t like salt on your chips –  tomorrow you will be in the cross hairs for whatever it is that you do.

Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, Deputy Food Director for the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it was “pointless” to put huge efforts into reducing salt if only left consumers adding large amounts themselves at the dinner table.

Which is what I do. Also, Mrs L and I cook using raw ingredients and add salt in the cooking process according to the recipe we are using. Certainly I wouldn’t dream of boiling rice, pasta or vegetables without salt.

“Our members have made fantastic progress reducing the levels of salt in food in recent years,” she said. “In some cases we’ve come as far as we can without help from science. If salt is reduced further there’s a danger that products will no longer taste the way customers want them to.”

Science has nothing to do with this war on salt. But Martinez-Inchausti is correct about affecting the taste. Maybe that’s what it will take for people to realise what is going on here.

Research will be conducted from next month to see if any new processes or ingredients can be found to overcome the problems.

I have a solution to the problem –  home cooking. When salt can only be bought on the black market, then the process of making drugs barons rich beyond their wildest dreams will be complete.

It is aimed at helping consumers follow health advice to limit their salt intake to 6g a day, in order to prevent high blood pressure that can lead to strokes and heart disease.

And herein lies the problem, apparent correlation does not equal causation no matter how much they bleat about it. I have no desire to reduce my salt intake and having low blood pressure am not at risk of high blood pressure anyway –  not unless something pretty drastic happens and if it does, salt in my diet will be the least of my problems.

Mick Norkett, founder of the East London Sausage Company, based in Walthamstow, said he would try to meet next year’s targets.

No, no, no… The appropriate response to these targets is to tell the bastards to engage in procreation and travel –  somewhere particularly nasty preferably. You do not roll over and concede.

“We do our best to keep the levels low, but salt is a preservative, and in sausages, it is in the skins as well as the sausage meat,” he said.

Well, I don’t and don’t plan to. I like my salt and will continue to add it to my food both during cooking and as a condiment at the table.

“If you are having a fry up, and trying to be keep salt levels down, I think the best thing is to stop adding salt at the table, and to avoid slathering on ketchups and beans that are packed full of the stuff.”

I’m not over keen on ketchup, but the beans will go on as well as a sprinkle of salt to flavour.

Hands off our fry-ups!

20 comments for “The Salties and the Fry-Up

  1. September 20, 2011 at 7:13 am

    ” Maybe thatโ€™s what it will take for people to realise what is going on here.”

    Look at the Twinings uproar recently when they changed the formula of their Earl Grey tea; consumer pressure forced them to change it back!

  2. Robert Edwards
    September 20, 2011 at 8:09 am

    When I was tiny, growing up in Malaya, I was made to eat salt tablets every day, along with the usual anti-malaria stuff. I am certain that quite soon people will start to keel over due to salt deficiency. That, or cholesterol shortage…

    • Bill
      September 20, 2011 at 8:15 am

      Then you need a big pharma ‘remedy’ kerchiiiiiiing!

      • Twenty_Rothmans
        September 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

        NaClarbate patches. See your GP. Also available in lozenges and gum.

    • September 20, 2011 at 8:49 am

      ‘start to keel over…’

      They already are; I know two elderly people who have had emergency medical treatment as a result of obeying to the letter the NHS instruction to ‘Say No To Salt’ – one came close to being sectioned before the deficiency was diagnosed.

  3. September 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

    The Telegraph article quotes a spokeswoman for the interestingly titled British Pig Executive:

    “When the work first started on these targets, it was led by statisticians, not microbiologists.”

    Should a drastic reduction in salt levels lead to a small increase in cases of food poisoning, it wouldn’t bother a statistician; as we’ve seen with statins, a small amount of ‘collateral damage’ would be outweighed by the number ‘saved’ by the new policy.

    Given the preservative properties of salt, it is highly likely that other additives will be introduced to prolong shelf-life; after all, the Puritans have achieved the same thing with sugar, replacing a natural substance with artificial sweeteners whose long-term effects on the human body are not yet fully understood.

    As it happens, I don’t eat meat, but I object strongly to this latest manifestation of Nanny-knows-best and the assault on a staple and time-honoured British dish.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I may not partake of your breakfast, but I will defend to the hilt your right to eat it.

    • September 20, 2011 at 9:27 am

      Those artificial sweeteners are vile! They just don’t taste right, and I can always tell if they have been added to something. It’s one reason I never go for those ‘diet’ versions of soft drinks.

      • Bill
        September 20, 2011 at 11:44 am

        Try Stevia. We did in 2008. To be honest it’s a little odd getting used to the fact that one tiny measure has the equivalent sweetness of two heaped spoons of white sugar (purely our own unscientific taste testing) but once the measures are sorted… there’s no going back to sugar.

      • September 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm

        Tell me about it. I want the full sugar version, just as I want full fat dairy products and salt in my bacon and sausages.

        • nisakiman
          September 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm

          Ha! You and me both! Anything with “low fat” or “Light (lite)” or “Low salt” on the label gets nowhere near my shopping trolley.

          I’ve said this before elsewhere, but all these issues with high blood pressure, cholesterol counts, BMI etc etc are predicated on us all conforming to a mean average, which in fact not many people do. Joe Bloggs may naturally, and for good reason, have notably higher than average blood pressure. But if he goes to a doctor, he will probably be given drugs and a dietary regimen to bring his blood pressure down to the accepted norm, regardless of the fact that his individual metabolism may actually need that higher pressure.

          Where salt is concerned, I think our bodies are very well adapted to dealing with salt intake, and any excess is flushed out naturally. There is no necessity to change our eating habits / foodstuffs to reduce salt intake.

          But what I think most of all is that these “experts” should just shut the fuck up and let people get on with their lives.

          • September 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm

            That is their lives…

  4. dearieme
    September 20, 2011 at 8:44 am

    We mainly have bacon and eggs at lunchtime, so presumably we’ll be all right?

    • September 20, 2011 at 9:11 am

      For now, Dearieme, for now.

  5. September 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I sometimes wish I had enough money to take all the members of ASH & CASH on a mystery tour and rock them up outside this place.
    Then stand back and watch their heads explode.

  6. ivan
    September 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    The sure way to stop this in its tracks is for someone to produce research showing a low salt diet is linked to people being intolerant to wind generators especially those in their areas.

    • September 21, 2011 at 5:50 am


  7. David A. Evans
    September 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Low salt diets can also cause muscle cramps.
    As has been said on this page, we dispose of any excess quite adequately anyway.

    • September 21, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Hell, they gave salt tablets to soldiers in WW2, so they could get enough of it [salt that is].

  8. September 21, 2011 at 6:43 am

    And then they came for the people who like a bit of a tang to their food. A draft paper on passive salt consumption will be on someone’s to-do list, you can bet on it.

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