Salt Awareness Week: has progress been made?

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Salt, Food

Salt Awareness Week has reignited debate in the UK over how much
success the food industry has had in reducing salt in processed
food.

For example, campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), while applauding the UK for leading the way on salt reduction, wants more to be done.

The organisation is urging consumers to boycott foods that still contain large and unnecessary amounts of added salt.

It said that shoppers should not to buy products that contain either more than 1.25g of salt (0.5g of sodium) per 100g or more than 2.4g of salt per serving, and hopes that this will force manufacturers to take action and reformulate excessively salty foods.

"If we halve our salt intake, i.e. make a reduction of 6g/day from the current intake of 10-12g, we will save approximately 70,000 people from developing strokes and heart attacks each year, 35,000 of which are fatal,"​ said CASH chairman Graham MacGregor.

But industry organisations such as the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) believe that the food sector should be better recognised for the progress that has been made in reformulating products.

They also claim that consumers should be informed as to why salt cannot simply be removed from all types of food.

"Salt reduction is a priority for the industry as part of its ongoingefforts to reformulate products where technologically possible,safe and acceptable to consumers,"​said the FDF in a salt information leaflet specially developed for Salt Awareness Week.

"A survey of our members conducted towards the end of 2005 found that 36 per cent of products, worth £7.4bn in sales, had a lower level of salt compared with the previous year, while £2.4bn worth of products were lower salt variants of standard lines."

Indeed, MacGregor did make a point of congratulating Birds Eye, New Covent Garden Soups, Heinz and supermarket chains for their progress.

"This proves that lower salt versions can be developed and we must now support the lower salt products and vote with our feet when it comes to the ones that have not been reformulated or still contain unnecessarily high amounts of salt,"​ he said.

The FDF said that the industry was committed to working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) towards its 2010 salt target of six grams of salt per day for the general population. However, it insisted that people should take a realistic view on salt reduction.

"It is a common misconception that salt can easily be removed from manufactured products. In fact, salt curing is one of the earliest known forms of food preservation for meat and fish,"​ said the FDF.

"By simply removing salt from manufactured products, many well known and popular foods could change significantly. Food is not purely about the functionality of getting all the nutrients our body needs and in the right proportion, it is also about pleasure.

"People will not eat food which does not taste good."

Related topics: Preservatives and acidulants

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