Asda salt reduction plan ahead of schedule

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Salt Nutrition

UK supermarket Asda claims it will hit salt reduction targets
across all its own label food categories nearly three years ahead
of the 2010 deadline.

The announcement comes during Salt Awareness Week and follows growing pressure on food manufacturers to reduce the salt content of processed foods.

"We set ourselves an ambitious deadline for ensuring every single one of our own-label products meets the FSAs salt reduction targets and are thrilled that were on track to hit this nearly three years ahead of the FSAs deadline,"​ said Vanessa Hattersley, ASDA nutritionist.

"We know our customers want us to help them eat more healthily but we dont think they should have to pay more for the privilege. Thats why were committed to doing all we need to, to make our products healthier but at the same time are making sure were not passing on any extra cost to our customers."

In March 2006, the FSA (Food Standards Agency) set voluntary salt reduction targets to encourage food manufacturers and retailers to cut the amount of salt across the 85 food categories that contribute most significantly towards peoples dietary salt intake.

The aim of introducing these targets was to help bring down the average UK salt intake to no more than 6g a day by 2010.

Asda claimed it has pursued an intensive programme of product reformulation to cut the amount of salt in its products. The supermarket has stripped out more than half the salt found in everyday items such as its own brand baked beans (0.7g salt per 100g) white bread (1g salt per 100g), Smart Price pasta sauce (0.7g salt per 100g) and tomato soup (0.5g salt per 100g).

By the end of 2006, the supermarket said it had already met the FSA target for salt reduction across at least 65 per cent of its own brand products.

"Asda is committed to removing a further 156 tonnes of salt from its products in the next twelve months in order to hit the FSA target,"​ said the company in a statement.

The Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), a pressure group that aims to encourage the reduction of salt in processed foods, said that the UK is leading the world on salt reduction, and that many food manufacturers and retailers should be congratulated on the effort they have made.

However, the organisation called for consumers to boycott food that still have large and unnecessary amounts of salt added, reiterating that some products still contain very high levels of salt.

"In every case there are lower salt alternatives on the market and we now feel that people should boycott these persistently high-salt products,"​ said Jo Butten, nutritionist for CASH.

"If sales of these products fall, the manufacturers will be forced to reformulate them, so we would urge shoppers 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,"​ she said.

Salt is of course a vital nutrient and is necessary for the body to function. It is also a vitally important compound in food manufacturing, in terms of taste and preservation.

But numerous scientists are convinced that high salt intake is responsible for increasing blood pressure (hypertension), a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) - a disease that causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe.

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