When C.A.S.H. came to us with their figures for salt content in one Jamie's Italian dish, we were immediately alarmed as their figures differed considerably from our on-going independent laboratory results. We have asked for the C.A.S.H. samples that were tested (in each case, only once) but were told they had been disposed of so there is no way to check the results. Our own independent tests are carried out monthly.
All of the businesses under the Jamie Oliver brand, including the restaurants, come under high scrutiny of nutrition and salt monitoring. We are constantly concerned about nutrition and making sure that the customers are presented with the right amount of information. We regularly carry out random tests of our meals at Jamie's Italian to ensure that the nutrition information is in line with our standards. We also ensure that there is a good variety of dishes on the menu so that customers can make informed choices on those occasions when they go out for a meal.
The C.A.S.H. figures rang an alarm bell because they were far away from what our own tests revealed – 8.1g of salt in a game meatball dish when our independent lab results (which are carried out regularly) showed the same dish containing 2.71g, 2.75g, 3.17g and 3.8g of salt over a period of several weeks. We could only assume that the C.A.S.H. test was an anomaly, a rarity.
We put our on-going independent laboratory results to C.A.S.H. last week and also explained the various measures which Jamie's Italian has put in place over the last 12 months to ensure that we are working towards the parameters laid down by the Department of Health.
These measures include:
- More nutritional training for chefs in Jamie's Italian
- Calorie information online from late April 2013 when the new spring/summer Jamie's Italian menu arrives. Additionally, we will be flagging online which menu dishes are “healthy” options.
- Regular, random nutritional testing to ensure that salt levels, for example, are in line with what we expect them to be.
We have also signed up for the Department of Health's Responsibility Deal on salt which we believe is a more robust and valuable pledge than the one that C.A.S.H. offers.
During our meeting with C.A.S.H., they said they were pleased that we were doing more than anyone else on the high street to inform consumers about nutrition and reduce salt in Jamie's Italian food. It's disappointing therefore that C.A.S.H. have decided to single out Jamie's Italian for what we feel is unjustified criticism.