Food industry meets ahead of new UK salt targets

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Taste, Food standards agency, Fsa

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) met with key industry players
yesterday ahead of the anticipated launch of new salt targets.

"The meeting took place in order to talk to stakeholders about the success of past campaigns and provide an evaluation of what has already been achieved,"​ an FSA spokesperson told FoodNavigator.

"It also provided an overview of new salt targets coming up, and a look at the objectives of the next campaign."

Although she declined to specify exactly when new targets will be published, an announcement is likely to be sooner rather than later.

The long-anticipated publication comes after months of internal debate within the industry. An FSA announcement was initially expected last month, but this was delayed due to the huge number of responses during the consultation period.

"We've had a lot of comment back during the consultation, and this has all gone into the setting of new targets. Some technical issues have been raised, but overall, industry has been very positive."

Most food makers claim they are on course to meet FSA salt targets, but there are still rumbles of disagreement from sectors such as cured meats and speciality cheeses. Yesterday's stakeholder meeting was therefore designed to give the industry the opportunity to discuss these issues before any formal announcement is made.

Europeans eat too much salt. The UK government for example estimates that processed foods, from soups and sauces to breakfast cereals and snacks, contribute about 75 per cent to people's salt intakes. But the problem for food makers has been developing salt substitutes that actually taste good, though there are a number of salt replacers on the market.

There is evidence however that tastes are changing. There has been a noticeable shift away from salt in recent years - according to market analyst Mintel, the salt sector in the UK has seen sales fall 13 per cent from 23 million in 2000 to about 20 million in 2005.

Table and cooking salt have been the main casualties, losing 15 per cent and 17 per cent of volume sales respectively between 2003 and 2005. In contrast, sea/rock salt and low sodium alternatives have increased, but between them they account for just 20 per cent of the total salt market.

Related topics: Food safety and labeling

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