Salt claims ‘a lie', says Wetherspoon’s Martin
27 June, 2012
Pubs and restaurants get a bad rap on salt levels in food, says J D Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin. He was speaking in a lively discussion on Radio 4’s 'You and Yours' consumer show this week.
Martin made his attack on the health lobby in response to claims from the Consensus Action on Salt and Health that pubs and restaurants are not doing enough to reduce people’s intake of salt.
To listen again to the discussion, click here and scroll to six minutes in.
In a recent survey, CASH found that some children’s meals in pubs contained more than a child’s recommended daily intake, while Nando’s and Wetherspoon’s each had a children’s meal with three times as much salt as a McDonald’s Happy Meal. It said pubs needed to make more nutritional information available to inform parents’ choices.
But in a typically robust contribution, Martin clashed with CASH’s Graham McGregor on the links between salt intake and strokes and heart attacks. “The medical profession jumps on a bandwagon without having evidence,” he complained. “The so-called evidence is trying to prove a hypothesis at the moment… it is inconsistent and contradictory.”
He said medical opinion shifted all the time—“A few years ago the medical evidence was that you shouldn’t eat more than two eggs a week… it was wrong”—and that salt was important. “If you don’t eat salt you die—it’s a vital part of what we consume.” McGregor strongly disagreed, but Martin stuck to his position that excessive salt intake did not cause heart attacks or strokes. “That’s a lie—it’s untrue… there is no evidence.”
Wetherspoon is nevertheless aiming to bring down salt levels in products by the end of the year, Martin said. McGregor welcomed the move. “Wetherspoon is one of the more responsible companies… but nevertheless there are some very high-level salt products out there.”