The coffee shops are serving sandwiches and pastries containing high levels of salt, whilst simultaneously promoting a healthy image.
Many of the sandwiches and paninis sold by Starbucks, Caffé Nero and Costa were found to contain over half of the recommended daily salt levels (a maximum of 6g a day).
One Starbucks panini contains 3.1g of salt, which is more than half the maximum daily recommended amount for adults. A panini in Caffé Nero has 3.2g of salt, according to the analysis. Costa’s ham and cheese sourdough panini contains 2.5g of salt, just below half the recommended daily amount.
This follows the recent news that a “shocking” amount of sugar can be found in many hot flavoured drinks sold by UK coffee shops, according to Action on Sugar.
Our research, carried out with the campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), follow revelations earlier this month that the same cafes are serving drinks containing as much 25 teaspoons of sugar in one serving.
The Telegraph’s salt findings coincide with national Salt Awareness Week, which started yesterday, designed to highlight the danger posed by the high levels of salt used in many processed and pre-packaged foods and ready-meals.
Consensus Action on Health and Salt (CASH), which is organising Salt Awareness Week, is calling on both food manufacturers, restaurants and cafés to meet stricter salt targets.
Sonia Pombo, nutritionist and campaign manager for CASH, said: “It’s shocking to see reputable coffee shop chains such as Costa Coffee, Caffé Nero and Starbucks, which portray a healthy lifestyle image, selling these products so high in salt.”
She added: “The food we eat is now the biggest cause of death and ill health in the UK, owing to the large amounts of salt, saturated fat and sugars added by the food industry.”
A Caffè Nero spokesman said: “None of our paninis or sandwiches have salt added to them and so any salt present is found in the ingredients themselves.
“The same goes for our cakes and sweet items - intended as a treat or indulgent purchase.”
Kerry Parkin, head of communications at Costa, said: “We take the nutritional balance of our food and drink very seriously and have already taken significant steps to reduce the salt, fat and sugar content of our ranges with the intention to continue to improve the balance of our product offerings.”