More than a quarter of meat-free burgers, sausages and mince tested for a study exceed maximum recommended salt levels, a campaign group has warned.
A total of 28% of the 157 meat substitute products studied by Action on Salt missed the voluntary salt targets set by Public Health England.
The worst offenders were saltier than Atlantic seawater, the report found.
Public Health England said it had told companies the importance of meeting its voluntary targets.
But Action on Salt called on PHE to take “urgent action” to do more to lower salt in the products.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Researchers said some of the foods were saltier, per 100g, than seawater in the Atlantic Ocean
Plain meat alternatives (including plain mince, pieces and fillets): 0.63g of salt per 100g Meat-free products (all meat alternative products, including sausages, burgers, bites, pies and sliced “meats”): 1.25g of salt per 100g Meat-free bacon: 1.88g of salt per 100g
Tofurky’s Deli Slices Hickory Smoked: 3.5g of salt per 100g Tesco Meat Free Bacon Style Rashers: 3.2g of salt per 100g Tesco Meat Free Mince (least salty): 0.2g of salt per 100g Atlantic seawater: 2.5g of salt per 100g
Action on Salt chairman Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at London’s Queen Mary University, said: “Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to reduce the number of people dying or suffering from entirely unnecessary strokes and heart disease.”
He added: “It is incomprehensible that Public Health England are not doing more to reduce the amount of salt in our food. We are again calling on PHE to take urgent action”.
Prof Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, said salt consumption had fallen over the last decade “but there is still a long way to go, as some foods still contain too much salt”.
He added: “Government has been clear with the food industry on the importance of meeting the 2017 salt targets.
“Since taking over salt reduction, PHE has been collecting data on industry’s progress and we’ll report later this year as planned.”
Quorn, one of the leading producers of vegetarian meat, said it had varying levels of salt in its products.
Its Meat-Free Best of British Sausages contain 1.9g of salt per 100g – more than the PHE recommendation. That means eating one sausage will give you 1.1g of salt. Adults would need to eat more than six of them in a day to bust their salt allowance (not counting any other salt in foods they also eat).
A spokeswoman added: “While they are higher in salt, as clearly marked on the pack, they are still low in saturated fat.
“We review all our product recipes on an ongoing basis to ensure we are achieving what our consumers want in terms of taste and health credentials.”