Popcorn is not the healthy snack many people believe it to be and some brands contain very high levels of salt and sugar, researchers said today.
Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) found some cinema popcorn contains nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar – more than would be found in three cans of cola.
Popcorn has reinvented itself as a healthy snack, but not all brands are delivering on this – with certain products containing dangerously high levels of salt and sugars
The same cinema chain’s large salted popcorn contains nearly the maximum daily recommended intake of salt for an adult, which CASH said was the equivalent of two McDonald’s Big Macs and fries.
The campaign group accused the food industry of “disguising highly processed snacks like popcorn with a healthy halo”, and said it is calling on companies to reduce the high levels of salt and sugar in their popcorn.
Its survey of the salt content of 154 flavoured popcorn products sold in major supermarkets, cafes and cinemas found nearly one in four (23 per cent) contained dangerously high levels of salt.
The worst offenders were sold by cinema chains, with Cineworld selling a large salted popcorn containing 5.1g, Empire Cinemas offering popcorn with 3.7g of salt per pack and Vue’s large salted popcorn having 3.1g of salt per pack.
Cineworld popcorn was also found to be the worst when it came to high levels of sugar, with its toffee popcorn containing 121g of sugar per 200g pack, equivalent to 30 teaspoons of sugar.
The sweetest also included Morrisons Toffee Popcorn (32.5g of sugar per 50g portion, or eight teaspoons).
CASH nutritionist Sonia Pombo said: “Popcorn has reinvented itself as a healthy snack, but not all brands are delivering on this – with certain products containing dangerously high levels of salt and sugars.”