Thursday, 31 March 2011

Express front page lies about chip shop salt 'ban'

The ridiculous front page splash on today's Express claims:

'Banned', eh? The story by Chris Riches says:

Salt shakers are being removed from fish and chip shops in a nanny state ruling on what we can eat.

The petty diktat is supposed to be part of a healthy living drive to lower salt consumption which has been linked to high blood pressure.

The story includes a large number of 'angry' quotes from local residents, rent-a-quote politicians and, inevitably, the TaxPayers' Alliance.

And the Express' editorial isn't happy either:

So for Stockport Council to force food outlets to withdraw salt from view is daft. Any council official turning up at a fish and chip shop to check the ban is being enforced rigorously may run the risk of getting battered.

So is salt going to be 'banned' and 'removed' from all chip shops by 'force', because of a 'diktat'? Not quite:

Stockport Council...wants fish and chip shops, cafes and Indian restaurants to hide salt shakers behind the counters.

As part of its campaign, customers who notice no salt on the counter or table will have to ask for it.

So it's only one council and they're not actually banning anything. Indeed:

The move is part of the wider Greater Manchester ASK campaign to cut excessive salt consumption, which is linked to high blood pressure, stomach cancer and asthma.

Businesses that sign up to the scheme will display an ASK symbol in their windows and have information on their cafe tables.

Or, as the Mail put it in their version of the same news, which was top story on their website on Wednesday:

The scheme, called ASK, is voluntary...

While the Mail's story does state the salt is only being put behind the counter, their headline still refers to Stockport as:

And yes, that really is 'out of site' (thanks geeoharee).

The Express article also claims that salt is:

one of the simple pleasures of life.

Yet on 22 March, the same paper took a slightly different view:

There is a killer on your dinner table every night, an assassin in your lunchtime sandwiches and you probably have no idea of the danger...

Every year 17,500 people die in the UK from cardiovascular disease and strokes caused by eating too much salt.


  1. Wait. Did the Mail actually misspell 'sight' as 'site'?

    I know it's a nitpick compared to the general level of Mail behaviour but really?

  2. Could have been worse.... Imagine the bile if it had been an EU ruling!

  3. @1nothingspecial

    No, no, the EU is currently too busy banning cars from City centres and apparently taking double the money from us to ban salt from our chip shops.

    Also, I'd like to add that here in Scotland we have quite a few fish and chip shops up here. In my 25 years on this planet I have never once walked into a fish and chip shop and seen salt on the actual counter. Every single time I buy fish and chips I am asked "Salt and Sauce?" and it is given if I want it. This is just the way it is, always has been as far as I am aware but no doubt stupid people who are taken in by the Express's lies will now suddenly demand it is "put back" on the counter.

  4. I live in Stockport, and I've never even heard of this until now. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that a simple council recommendation that barely even registered on a local level can be spun into a front-page worthy BAN by a national newspaper, it happens all the bloody time. But it still never ceases to amaze me how the Express (and Star, for that matter - Desmond must be so proud) considers it necessary to pull a front page story out of its arse pretty much every single day when there's so much actual news going on in the world.

  5. I normally take everything in The Express with a pinch of salt...

  6. Agreed - every time I've been in a chip shop I've been asked if I want salt and vinegar. I've never had to put in on myself.

    Also, I'd like to present that the prevailing belief that salt is bad for you, is a myth. My local chippy uses unrefined sea salt, which is actually very good for you. Even unrefined salt doesn't really hurt you, and a low-salt diet doesn't have any appreciable benefits anyway.

    1. Hiya - unfortunately 'sea salt' is basically the same (nutritionally) as standard salt, all salt is simply sodium chloride (and in fact all comes from a salted body of water - so all salt is 'sea salt').
      'Sea salt' is just a trendy sort of TV chef phenomenon, and in fact can be a bit worse for you, as it comes in bigger chunks, therefore less surface area per gram, so you eat more. It's certainly not 'very good for you' - nor is any large amount of salt.
      Although obviously you need some so your cells don't explode!!

  7. The story was reported very sensibly in the Stockport Express:

    Also Stockport's in Cheshire, not Greater Manchester, but that mistake is made so often it hardly seems worth pointing it out any more.

  8. Has the Express gone past the point of trying to spin the news its own way and just started ignoring the news completely?

    On the Beeb's website today, there's plenty of foreign news, but also stuff you'd think the Express would take an interest in. Like the Irish banks' EU business developing, or the shooting of a 5-year old girl in London.

    But no, they made up this nonsense, and have the second heading of their front page as "A WOMAN WE PAY TO MAKE SHIT UP FOR US EVERY WEEK HAS ALSO MADE SOMETHING UP THIS WEEK".

    It's turned into a parody of itself. It'd only need a reference to Diana Spencer somewhere and it'd be complete.

  9. Credit to the Express, it only took about five paragraphs before revealing the headline was a load of twaddle. Normally takes a bit longer than that!

  10. @Vicky - Stockport is not part of Cheshire.

    It is a unitary authority, so effectively free from being part of any county, but it sits within Greater Manchester Metropolitan Council (which is mostly now defunct but still carries out some functions and the councils still cooperate with each other), not Cheshire.

  11. Apparently, this is one of the topics for discussion on today's Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2.
    I dread to think how the story will be twisted once the world and his dog call in to give their two penn'orth.

  12. just found your site - thank you! ive been so angry with this rag that i had to start a basic twitter account since January - @dailyexpresslol -just to keep me sane.

  13. This is currently up for discussion on Gabby Logans R5 show now too. At least R2 aren't reporting it as 'banned' in the segment I just heard.

  14. Just a thought, but why didn't the Express have the made up non-story "ANGER AS BRITAINS EU BILL DOUBLES" as the main headline and this made up non-story about salt as the squared off article?

    They could have added it to the fuel of their "Crusade" against the EU (which is called a Campaign and does not feature the crusader logo in Scotland I'd like to point out).

  15. Just heard the Jeremy Vine show, Yup, the work `banned' was said with gay abandon by lots of correspondents angry with the council for this `rule'.

    This shouldn't have even been a story on the show of course but then at times I do find the show is just an extension of the Mail and Express front page

  16. So how do I know people working for Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council then?

  17. I was done at 'astrologer'...

  18. Vicky: The very fact that Stockport is a metropolitan borough indicates that it's in a metropolitan county. Cheshire is not (and never has been) a metropolitan county, whereas Greater Manchester is (and has been since it was created by the Local Government Act 1972).

  19. Some years ago, on the Jeremy Vine show, a doctor from the USA claimed that the human body does not need salt.

  20. Has anyone read the insane comments in that Express article? This gem is particularly depressing: 'This is NOT "health advice" because its based on pseudo-science, not proven medical facts.
    Too little salt is just as bad as too much - and many people buying chips could actually need the extra salt to regulate their total salt intake.'

  21. Complete despair when the attitude of the media allows our freedoms to be eroded and taken, but not our salt shakers!

  22. The increasingly-senile Daily Express has now reached a point whereby if it were a person, it would've been moved into a specialist home with round-the-clock care.

  23. @Anonymous 13:19

    Good analogy, the Express does remind me of an old man who used to stand in the high street shouting nonsense at pigeons and passing cars.

    Actually, come to think of it, he used to carry a copy of the Express now and again!

  24. This was their April Fools joke, wasn't it?


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