Work to cut salt produces mixed results

19 December 2018

There have been mixed results in meeting salt reduction targets by the food industry, according to a report.

The report, published by Public Health England (PHE), revealed that just over half (52%) of all salt reduction targets were met for in-home food products, with retailers own-brand products making more progress (73%) than manufacturers (37%).

To meet salt reduction targets in 2017, companies were asked to meet average and maximum targets and for nine in-home product categories including breakfast cereals and baked beans. The average targets for reducing salt were successfully met.

However meat products did not meet any of average salt reduction targets set out and 43% of meat products had salt levels above the maximum per serving target.

The progress made by restaurants, cafes and pubs to reduce salt was also assessed and 71% of food products contained salt levels below the maximum per serving target.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “While we have seen some progress, those that have taken little or no action cannot be excused for their inactivity. It is clear that, with the right leadership from industry, further salt reduction in foods continues to be possible.”

So far, the programme has reduced the UK’s salt intake by 11%, to 8g per day. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has recommended the population’s average salt intake should be reduced to 6g per day to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

While the programme to reduce salt in foods has been underway since 2006, results had previously been self-reported by the food industry and the new report marks the first in-depth assessment of salt reduction using commercial data.

Public health minister Steve Brine said despite progress being made by the food industry to reduce salt, there is still more to do and ambitious goals will be set out by the government by Easter 2019 to further reduce salt intake.

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