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UK Chefs, Stop Over Salting the Food!

UK Chefs, Stop Over Salting the Food!

March 2015

The range and quality of food served in the UK’s restaurants, pubs and cafes has improved beyond all recognition over the past 20 years, but sadly there is still one area in need of serious attention – chefs, please stop over salting the food! You use great fresh ingredients, full of natural flavours and goodness – you don’t need to over-season your dishes.

A month ago, I dined out at the restaurant of a top-rated hotel in Winchester and had a superb ‘Boeuf Bourguignon on the Bone’, carelessly destroyed by over-salted green beans. Sadly, this has been the norm, rather than the exception, in my recent eating out experiences. I have even encountered a beautiful skate wing, not only ruined by the use of ginger overpowering its wonderful natural flavour, but also by a hidden puddle of salt under the fish that rendered it inedible. This led to the restaurant losing our business for a 40-strong pre-wedding celebration dinner.

Personally, I think influential celebrity chefs should make more of a point on the TV about how to use salt subtly to bring out the flavour of dishes, rather than ensuring the customer is up all night, drinking copious glasses of water and visiting the lavatory!

My New England wife and I make frequent trips to Boston. We never encounter this problem. Why? The answer is simple: the US food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that individuals consume no more than 2.3 grams of sodium per day and that certain groups limit their intake to 1.5 grams per day. Contrast these figures with those of the UK where in 2013, the Department of Health announced it would help people reduce daily salt intake from an average 8.1 grams per day towards a still staggeringly high 6 grams per day! I quote from 13 March 2013 Department of Health press release: “The UK is world-leading in salt reduction but more needs to done to reach our goal of no more than 6 grams a day. This is because eating too much salt can have a serious impact on people’s health – causing high blood pressure, which could lead to heart disease and stroke.”

I totally agree about the dangers to health but really, Department of Health, you should be looking to our cousins across the pond for a sensible lead on this and set a similar 2.3 gram target. We might then live a lot longer to really enjoy the marvellous food revolution and the glorious associated flavours that have turned the UK into the envy of food lovers across the globe.

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