A survey by Consumer Action on Salt and Health (CASH) based at Queen Mary University of London found that some pesto products contain high levels of salt, with certain brands even increasing levels.
A new survey has revealed that a number of pesto sauces contain far higher amounts of salt than others, with some containing 3.3g salt per 100g - "that's 30% saltier than seawater" according to Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH).
Cash highlighted that many parents use pesto to season their children's pasta dishes, and warned that using sauces high in salt could heighten their risk of developing high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks as adults.
The maximum recommended daily intake of salt for an adult is 6g a day, according to the NHS.
Pesto is often seen as a healthy sauce but campaigners have warned it contains high levels of salt and fat Credit Telegraph
Some pesto sauces by brands including Scala and Napolina contain over 2g of salt, which is more than seawater, Consensus on Salt and Health (Cash) found in a survey.
CASH, which is based at Queen Mary University of London, used the FoodSwitch UK app to analyse the salt content of 75 pesto sauces and found almost 40% of products surveyed exceeded the average salt target for pesto sauces.
High salt levels were also found in Napolina Green Pesto with Basil at 2.5g per 100g, Gino D'Acampo Pesto alla Genovese Basil Pesto at 2.3g, and Truly Italian Genovese Basil Pesto at 2g.
Some 44 per cent of the pesto sauces have enough saturated fat to warrant a red label on packaging.
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"None of the products we surveyed could be described as "healthy", so consider having pesto in smaller portions, less frequently or try other pasta sauces lower in salt and fat instead".
Nutritionist Sonia Pombo, of Cash, said: 'Salt is the forgotten killer.
With less than three months to go, CASH called for Public Health England to get tough on enforcing the 2017 salt targets of 1.38g for pesto and other thick sauces.
Sacla's No 1 Classic Basil Pesto has 18% more salt than when it was last surveyed in 2009, while its No 5 Organic Basil Pesto has 32% more than previously.
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"Salt reduction is the biggest and most successful public health preventive measure made to date, yet it appears that many food manufacturers have stalled".
"Some companies are clearly not on track to meet the 2017 salt reduction targets for this category", it added.
Chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said: "Many popular foods can contain a surprising amount of salt".
"This is a national scandal as we know we can save thousands of people from unnecessary strokes and heart attacks if population salt intake is reduced, and furthermore, it is the most cost effective health policy".
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A Sacla spokeswoman said: "We work hard to make authentic Italian products which are good quality, safe to eat and should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet".