Salt levels falling in Irish processed meat

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Progress has been made in reducing salt in processed meats
Progress has been made in reducing salt in processed meats

Related tags Nutrition Pork

Salt levels in processed meats, such as bacon, have fallen by more than a quarter in some cases, according to Food Safety Authority Ireland (FSAI). 

There has been a 27% decline in the level of salt in Irish bacon rashers, according to FSAI’s ongoing salt monitoring programme. Despite the significant decline, the body has warned that people in Ireland are still eating too much salt and risk developing heart disease.

“Salt plays an important role in the diet, but people in Ireland are simply eating too much of it and this increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases,”​ warned Dr Wayne Anderson, director of Food Science and Standards at the FSAI. Anderson stressed the average salt intake of Irish consumers still exceeds the 5g of salt per day recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

After an examination of 530 samples of processed foods in 2015, FSAI reported “significant reductions”​ in salt content of processed meats.

Bacon rashers had a 27% drop in salt content, sodium in cooked hams has fallen by 15%, while sausages have seen salt reduced by 11%. FSAI stressed the decline was a gradual, cumulative one between 2003 and 2015.

“While levels of salt have decreased in processed foods, the average dietary salt intakes in Irish adults continue to exceed the recommended daily intake of 5g salt per day,”​ said Anderson.

“The estimated average daily salt intake in Irish adults is currently 11.1g salt per day in men and 8.5g salt per day in women. We would ask consumers to read product labels for information on salt content and reduce the amount of salt they add themselves in cooking and at the table.”

Anderson said Irish food manufacturers, including meat processors, will be expected to pursue further research and development to continue to reduce salt intake.

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