Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver have been lambasted by a nutrition group in the UK for serving dishes with shockingly high salt levels.
According to nutrition group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), a dish of steamed mussels in cider cream and fries at Gordon Ramsay’s The Savoy Grill clocked in at 7.3 g of salt per 510 g portion, while a plate of meatballs from Jamie’s Italian rang in at 8.1g of salt per 570g portion.
For perspective, the maximum recommended intake is 6g -- or one teaspoon – a day.
On the eve of releasing their report, however, the group backpedaled on their damning assessment of Oliver’s menu, issuing a statement that seemed to accept representatives' argument that the restaurant “is in fact doing more to reduce salt in its meals than most other restaurants.”
For example, after meeting with Oliver's people, the group is now satisfied, they said, with the fact that Jamie Oliver Ltd. employs three full-time nutritionists who regularly test the foods across his burgeoning empire, and described their results as a fluke.
“In the case of the salt content of the Jamie's Italian dish ‘Jamie’s Meatballs’ quoted in our news release, we now accept that our result was unusual compared to the regular testing by Jamie's own team and therefore is not representative of Jamie's Italian meals as a whole.”
Overall, their report found that of six celebrity chef restaurant meals analyzed, dishes Dinner by Heston Blumenthal had the lowest salt content, clocking in at below 1.5g of salt per dish.
Other celebrity restaurants in the survey included Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc, Marco Pierre White’s Frankies, Fifteen and Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill.
The report was released to kick off National Salt Awareness Week in the UK, which wraps up March 17.
Overall, of the 664 main meals analyzed from 29 popular chain and celebrity restaurants, researchers found that more than half -- 347 -– had more than 2.4g of salt per portion.
According to Britain’s National Health Service, foods that are considered high in salt have more than 1.5g of salt per 100g, while low is considered 0.3g of salt or less per 100g.
'Pizza Hut salt bomb'
Meanwhile, among fast food chains, Pizza Hut earned the dubious title of being the worst salt culprit, as 93 percent of dishes analyzed had more than 2.4g of salt. At the other end, Subway emerged as the healthiest option with less than one in five meals containing more than 2.4g of salt.
On average, Brits consume 8.1g of salt per day. High salt intake has been linked to serious health conditions such as stomach cancer, osteoporosis, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The department of health estimates that reducing salt intake by 1g, or a pinch of salt, could save 4,147 preventable deaths a year.
Meanwhile, it’s not the first time Oliver has been skewered for the nutritional content of his meals. In 2011, US-based group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine lambasted the "Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes" cookbook, calling it one of the worst, unhealthiest cookbooks of 2011.
The offending recipe? Oliver’s Meatball Sandwich, which contains more fat than a Big Mac and more than double the calories, cholesterol, sodium and saturated fat.
The recipe calls for ground beef, pancetta, Jarlsberg cheese and ciabatta loaves.