Last updated on 7 July 2004

Survey of pizzas

Food Survey Information Sheet 58/04

Summary

The Food Standards Agency has recently carried out a survey to look at the levels of a limited range of nutrients, including salt, fat and sugar, in pizzas. The results of this survey show that 65% of the pizzas included in the survey contained 'a lot' of salt (more than 1.5g per 100g). 32% of the pizzas contained more than 3g of salt per portion; this is equal to or more than 50% of the recommended maximum daily intake for an adult. Where direct comparisons were possible, on average, retail pizzas contained more salt and fat than takeaway pizzas.

Key points

  • 98 samples of pizza from 14 different categories, including takeaway and retail products, and vegetable and meat topped pizzas were bought and analysed to determine the levels of a limited number of nutrients, including salt, fat and sugar. The retail pizzas were prepared according to the instructions on the packaging and then analysed. Composite samples consisting of similar products were also analysed.
  • This survey has highlighted a number of issues regarding the nutritional information provided on product labels. This includes some products that do not provide any information; others do not provide information on sodium levels; and whether the information is provided 'as sold' or 'as cooked'.
  • The results of this survey show that 65% of the pizzas included in the survey contained 'a lot' of salt (more than 1.5g per 100g).
  • 32% of the pizzas included in the survey contained 3g of salt or more per portion (adults portion is 200g). This is equal to or more than 50% of the recommended maximum daily intake for an adult (6g per day).
  • Only 5% of pizzas included in the survey contained less than 2g of salt per portion (this does not include children's pizza).
  • The ranges of fat and salt values found were considerable. The salt content of the pizzas sampled ranged from 0.5 g in a child's portion (95g) of a children's cheese and tomato pizza up to 4.4g in an adult's portion (200g) of a meat-based pizza. Fat ranged from 5.6g in a child's portion (95g) of the same children's cheese and tomato pizza up to 36.4g in an adult's portion (200g) of a cheese and tomato microwavable pizza.
  • On average 'Healthy Eating' cheese and tomato pizzas (from retail outlets) contained lower amounts of fat and salt than standard retail cheese and tomato pizzas. Healthy eating cheese and tomato pizzas contained 13.1g fat per portion and 2.2g salt (range 1.5-2.7g) per portion, whereas standard retailer cheese and tomato pizzas contained 23.6g of fat and 2.9g of salt (average of deep pan and thin and crispy).
  • Thin and crispy and deep pan shop-bought cheese and tomato pizzas contained very similar levels of fat and salt; both contained 23.6g fat per portion; and 3.0g and 2.8g salt per portion respectively.
  • Vegetable topped thin and crispy type pizzas were lower in fat and salt than meat topped thin and crispy type pizzas from retail outlets; 19.2g fat and 2.5g salt per portion and 23.4g of fat and 3.5g salt per portion, respectively.
  • Where direct comparisons were possible, on average, retail pizzas contained more salt than takeaway pizzas (2.9g and 2.5g salt per portion, respectively) and slightly more fat (21g and 17g fat per portion, respectively).
  • Due to changes in the pizza market and the products available, only limited comparisons can be made between this survey and previous data collected in a survey 10 years ago (1994). Values for composite categories in the current survey are broadly similar to the 1994 survey. Any differences present are within the limits of analytical variation.