High-priced rock and sea salts that are promoted as healthier choices risk misleading consumers about their benefits.

A new Consumer NZ report has found that gourmet salts can claim to contain higher levels of essential minerals such as iron and calcium. “All salt products on shop shelves are essentially the same, nearly 100 percent sodium chloride,” said Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin.

Consumer NZ found three companies – Lotus Foods, Mrs Rogers, and The Healthy Salt Company – promoted some of their salts as containing iron, calcium or magnesium even though these minerals are only present in trace amounts.

“Food manufacturers are well aware shoppers want to buy healthy foods. Consumers may decide to buy a gourmet salt over a cheaper table variety after seeing these claims about mineral content. But they’ll be paying five to 50 times the price.”

The product claims may also tempt consumers to add extra salt to their food to try to up their iron, calcium or magnesium intake. Consumer NZ believes the claims also fall foul of the labelling rules in the Food Standards Code. To claim a product is a source of a specific mineral, such as iron or calcium, it must provide 10 percent of the code’s adult recommended daily intake (RDI). Products promoted by Lotus Foods, Mrs Rogers and The Healthy Salt Company did not meet this requirement.