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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
(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

 
Take note of the wide variation of sodium content in soup products in the market. When having soups in the restaurants, ask for reduced sodium version.
 
Be aware of the portion size of soup, consume in several times or share with others when the portion is large.
 
When making soups at home, add suitable amount of salt and other condiments, or even do not add any salt.
 
Maintain a balanced diet by including a wide variety of foods, limit the consumption of other high sodium foods, such as processed foods.

Advice to Trade

 
Reform recipes, such as changing ingredients or adjusting the serving size, so that consumers can have a lower sodium intake from soups.
 

Reduce sodium content in soups by making reference to the CFS’ “Trade Guidelines for Reducing Sodium in Foods”. The trade could also record the amount of salt used, the flavour of soups and comments from customers during recipe reformulation in order to monitor the effects of salt reduction.

 

Enable the consumers to make informed choice by providing nutrition information and suggested number of serves of their soup products on menus, price list and other printed matters.

 

Encourage consumers not to add extra salt in soups. For example, remove the salt shaker from the dining table, or allow consumers to ask for foods with lower salt contents when making order..

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

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Last Revision Date : 15-06-2016