Half of all pizzas have more than the recommended level of salt – with some containing the equivalent of seven Big Macs.

The shocking levels of salt were unveiled this morning by health lobbyists Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH).

It said its latest study, done in conjunction with WASH (World Action on Salt & Health), had found huge differences in the salt content of pizzas found in supermarkets, restaurants and takeaways both in the UK and worldwide.

CASH said that some countries were being fed twice as much salt from the same pizza as in other countries and that many pizzas now have more salt than they did two years ago.

Sonia Pombo, nutritionist at CASH, said: “Most of us aren’t aware of how much salt we actually eat on a daily basis, and thus the danger we are putting ourselves in.

“With three-quarters of our salt intakes coming from processed foods such as pizza, how are any of us able to choose a healthier diet? We need the food industry to help us improve our diet, not to hide three times more salt than is recommended in a day in a single pizza!”

Blood pressure

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of CASH & WASH and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Barts & The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, added: “Eating too much salt puts up our blood pressure, the major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Reducing salt intake around the world would save millions of lives each year.

“At the World Health Assembly in May 2013, it was unanimously agreed that all countries should reduce their daily salt intake by 30% towards a target of up to 5g per day, by 2025. Our survey has shown that many pizza manufacturers are still adding very large and completely unnecessary amounts of salt to their pizzas. This is completely unacceptable and our advice is to avoid eating pizzas from these manufacturers.” 

The UK research found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of all restaurants and takeaway pizzas (586 out of 802) surveyed contain more salt per pizza than your entire maximum daily recommended salt intake. 

CASH said that takeaway pizzas, including Papa John’s Stuffed Crust Sausage & Pepperoni and Domino’s Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Passion pizza contained as much as 16g of salt per medium-sized pizza – the equivalent of nearly three teaspoons of salt, nearly three times the recommended daily limit, and as much salt as you would find in seven Big Macs.

It added that the Sainsbury’s Thin & Crispy Cheese & Tomato Pizza now has more salt than it did two years ago (1.3g/100g in 2014 vs 0.88g/100g in 2012). And, in 2012 Pizza Express was highlighted, as its restaurant pizzas were saltier than its pizzas sold in supermarkets. Now, the values appear to be fairly similar to each other, but the salt content of its supermarket margherita and pepperoni pizzas have actually increased by as much as 0.3g/100g.