Burger King denies reports that pulling out of UK salt initiative

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food Food processing Hamburger

Calls for hard legislation to replace voluntary codes on salt
removal likely, even though Burger King denies rumours it has
pulled out of government and industry link-up to remove salt from
food formulations.

Eating too much salt is a significant risk factor in developing high blood pressure, itself a cause or contributing factor in the rising incidence of heart disease, the world's number one killer.

And condemned for contributing to the worsening health problems in the population, food makers are under orders to cut salt levels in their processed food formulations.

Indeed, the UK government estimates that processed foods, from soups and sauces to breakfast cereals and snacks, contribute about 75 per cent to people's salt intakes.

In a bid to ensure consumers hit the recommended salt-intake target of 6g a day, the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has developed a joint venture with the food industry to self-regulate and reformulate fast foods to cut salt from the recipes.

Reports in the UK press at the weekend claimed that Burger King, Britain's second-biggest fast food chain, said it had opted out of the joint initiative.

But the firm has denied the reports.

"Contrary to reports in the media, we have not "pulled out" of a joint initiative with the FSA,"​ said a spokesperson today from the fast food firm.

We have contacted the FSA today to reaffirm our position, will be meeting with them in the near future and look forward to continuing to work with them over the coming years, added the Burger King spokesperson.

On the flip side, the Food Standards Agency tells FoodNavigator.com "it was very disappointed to hear that Burger King may be abandoning work on salt reduction."

Although it added: "We are encouraged that Burger King has contacted the agency (10 October), and we look forward to hearing more about theirplans."

Burger King's alleged decision to break ranks, which coincided with the launch of a €8.7 million FSA campaign to raise awareness of salt intake, could well have jeopardised the initiative's effectiveness.

Not least because it raises issues over opt-in, opt-out voluntary actions that mean food firms will no longer compete on an even playing field.

"The voluntary approach is all very well, but it means that some firms are taking the risk and others are not,"​ says Ian Tokelove, spokesperson at UK consumer food campaigners the Food Commission.

Legislation is the only way of levelling this out, he emphasises.

Yesterday the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), the voice of the UK food industry, confirmed the sector's commitment to slicing salt away.

"UK food manufacturers are committed to further reformulation of products and support the FSA aim of raising consumer awareness.

We are doing our bit by reducing salt in a huge range of products and providing better, simpler information through improved labelling,"​ said Martin Paterson, FDF deputy director general.

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