Sodium Content in Soups

Abstract

Consuming too much sodium (salt) may lead to developing hypertension. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to chronic diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Soups were found to be the second major contributors to the total dietary sodium intake of the adult population in Hong Kong. The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) and the Consumer Council (CC) thus has conducted a joint study, and tested the sodium content in 13 types of soups commonly available in local restaurants , as well as checked the nutrition labelling information of some of these prepackaged soups. This study aims to provide an update on the levels of sodium contents in these soups; and to compare the sodium contents in these products from different food outlets, with a view to informing the public and urging the trade to provide soups with less sodium through product reformulation .

The Study

2. The study covered 130 samples (13 types) of soups collected from Chinese, Western and Asian restaurants, local style cafés , fast-food chains, soups specialty shops and supermarkets during August to November 2015. Out of these 130 samples, 125 of them are non-prepackaged soups and were tested for the sodium content by the Food Research Laboratory , while the remaining 5 samples are prepackaged soups and their sodium contents as declared on nutrition labels were examined.

3. The average sodium [salt] contents of the 13 types of soup samples are summarised in the table below. Tom Yum Goong soup had the highest average sodium contents while Kudzu root soup had the lowest average sodium contents . Out of these 130 samples, 3 samples (2 Tom Yum Goong soups and 1 hot and sour soup) were considered high in sodium content as they contained more than 1.5 g of salt (600 mg of sodium) per 100g.

Types of soup Total no.
of samples
Sodium content per 100 g of soup (mg)
[salt content (g)]
Average Minimum Maximum
粉葛湯
Kudzu root soup
10 139 [0.35] 27 [0.07] 220 [0.55]
響螺煲雞湯
Chicken with conch soup
10 217 [0.54] 120 [0.30] 300 [0.75]
青紅蘿蔔豬肉湯
Pork soup with green radish and carrot
10 218 [0.55] 89 [0.22] 330 [0.83]
海鮮羮
Seafood thick soup
10 291 [0.73] 220 [0.55] 460 [1.15]
西湖牛肉羮
Xihu beef thick soup
10 309 [0.77] 140 [0.35] 480 [1.20]
酸辣湯
Hot and sour soup
10 380 [0.95] 290 [0.73] 670 [1.68]
洋蔥湯
Onion soup
10 273 [0.68] 110 [0.28] 450 [1.13]
忌廉蘑菇湯
Cream of mushroom
10 327 [0.82] 160 [0.40] 480 [1.20]
羅宋湯
Borsch
10 398 [1.00] 160 [0.40] 550 [1.38]
人參雞湯
Ginseng chicken soup
10 169 [0.42] 57 [0.14] 270 [0.68]
肉骨茶
Bak kut teh
10 282 [0.71] 150 [0.38] 390 [0.98]
麵豉湯
Miso soup
10 361 [0.90] 230 [0.58] 480 [1.20]
冬蔭功湯
Tom Yum Goong soup
10 529 [1.32] 370 [0.93] 840 [2.10]
Overall 130 299 [0.75] 27 [0.07] 840 [2.10]

4. Wide variation in sodium contents within the same soup type was observed. For example, a maximum sodium difference of more than 7 times was observed in Kudzu root soup. This indicates that there is room for the trade to lower the sodium content in soups.

5. The average sodium contribution of the 13 types of soup to the recommended daily intake (2,000mg sodium per day) are summarised in the table below. Among all 130 soup samples, an average serve (240g) of soup contributed an average of 36% of the recommended daily intake.

Types of soups Average sodium contribution to recommended daily intake (2,000mg/day)
Based on an average consumption
h(1 bowl of soup)*
Based on a higher consumption
(2.5 bowls of soup)*
粉葛湯
Kudzu root soup
17% 42%
響螺煲雞湯
Chicken with conch soup
26% 65%
青紅蘿蔔豬肉湯
Pork with green radish and carrot soup
26% 66%
海鮮羹
Seafood thick soup
35% 87%
西湖牛肉羹
Xihu beef thick soup
37% 93%
酸辣湯 Hot and sour soup 46% 114%
洋蔥湯 Onion soup 33% 82%
忌廉蘑菇湯
Cream of mushroom soup
39% 98%
羅宋湯 Borsch 48% 119%
人參雞湯
Ginseng chicken soup
20% 51%
肉骨茶 Bak kut teh 34% 85%
麵豉湯 Miso soup 43% 108%
冬蔭功湯
Tom Yum Goong
63% 159%
Overall 36% 90%

* One bowl of soup contains ~240g, while 2.5 bowls of soup contain ~600g.

Advice to Consumers

Advice to Trade

More Information

6. The related article is published in the  CHOICE MAGAZINE (Issue 476, released on 15 June 2016 ) (Chinese only).

June 2016  
Risk Assessment Section 
Centre for Food Safety 
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department