5 Apr 2017

Are gourmet salts all they’re cracked up to be?

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:20 pm on 5 April 2017

Expensive Himalayan rock salts and other gourmet brands are essentially the same as the cheapest brands on supermarket shelves, Consumer New Zealand says.

It says many of those brands claim to be healthier, which falls foul of the labelling rules in the Food Standards Code.

Himalayan Pink Rock Salt

Consumer NZ is concerned about the health claims made by some gourmet salt companies. Photo: Pixabay

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says marketing on some gourmet salt packaging about trace elements and minerals is slightly misleading.

“The important word there is that it’s only trace amounts of it and if you really wanted to eat those nutrients or elements, you would be far better to have a balanced diet of sort of meat, fruit and vegetables and not be using salt as a source of any of those things."

Ms Chetwin says some of the nutrient values quoted on the back are so little they might not be enough to meet the standard for even being able to make a claim.

However she's concerned those claims might encourage people to consume more salt.

“Already we have too much salt in our diet.

“All salts are nearly 100 percent sodium chloride, so whatever else they have in there it’s really only in trace elements of it.”

She says fancy pink Himalayan salts are really no healthier than their no-frills competitors.

“Say you wanted to have a 120 gram steak and you added half a teaspoon of your Himalayan harvest rock salt to it… from that you would get .07 milligrams of iron out of that salt, but the meat would give you 4.3 milligrams.”

The most important nutrient people can get from salt is iodine, she says.

Consumer NZ plans to follow up with the Ministry for Primary Industries about the claims as Ms Chetwin says people are being duped.

“People are more and more wanting to know what’s in their food, maybe some people, you know the worried well, when they see claims like this they react to it.”