UK consumers have a daily average salt intake of 8.1 grams – still much higher than the 6 gram maximum recommended by the Department of Health. It says that more than half the population (53%) rarely considers salt content when buying foods, even though awareness of salt’s link to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is high.
The new initiative, launched by public health minister Anna Soubry as part of the government’s Responsibility Deal, aims to attract more food companies to make salt reduction pledges, as well as revising salt reduction targets, and asking companies to promote lower salt options.
The new salt strategy also aims to push the catering and takeaway industry to do more to reduce salt by setting new targets for the most popular items like sandwiches and chips.
Soubry said in a statement: “We are working with the food industry to make sure people are given healthier options with less salt in their favourite foods. The voluntary approach is working and we have already seen results in our everyday foods, but to get the greatest impact, we need more companies pledging to reduce salt levels, particularly in the catering and take away sector.
“…Currently 90 companies have signed up to make salt reduction a priority, and we want to see real action from many more.”
Responsibility Deal Food Network chair Dr Susan Jebb said: “This strategy combines work to develop new targets for reformulation, with action to urge more companies to play their full part and renewed efforts to encourage consumers to do more to reduce the salt we’re eating.”
UK leads the way on salt reduction
Soubry underlined that the UK’s efforts to reduce salt consumption have been among the most effective in the world.
According to World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), the UK now has the lowest salt intake of any developed country in the world and salt intakes have fallen in adults from an average of 9.5g a day in 2005 to the current 8.1g a day.
WASH urges other countries to follow the UK’s lead in the “rigorous setting of voluntary targets to be achieved by the food industry”.