UK: FDF, BRC say manufacturers reaching salt reduction limit

By Michelle Russell | 16 July 2012

  •  FDF, BRC report claims manufacturers "reaching limit" on salt reduction
The project, undertaken by Leatherhead Food Research, set out to identify techniques to reduce salt in foods

The project, undertaken by Leatherhead Food Research, set out to identify techniques to reduce salt in foods

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) have published a report that claims UK retailers and manufacturers are "reaching the limit" of what they can achieve on salt reduction.

The project, undertaken by Leatherhead Food Research, set out to identify techniques to reduce salt in foods, which would also address the related problems of products having a shorter shelf-life or "lacking taste or texture".

The report, however, claims potential future methods exist but need either "considerably more scientific development", including establishing their safety for consumption, or have yet to be tried in actual foods.

Leatherhead announced it was undertaking the research in December last year.

As part of the UK government's Public Health Responsibility Deal, a set of policies to improve public health, the country's food industry pledged to cut salt content by a further 15% on targets set for 2010 by 2012.

Show the press release

SALT REDUCTION REACHING ITS LIMIT

An independent report examining ways of further reducing salt in foods is published today (Friday) by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The project, undertaken by Leatherhead Food Research (LFR), set out to identify suitable techniques to reduce salt which would also address the related problems of products having a shorter shelf-life or lacking taste or texture. The report shows potential future methods exist but need either considerably more scientific development, including establishing their safety for consumption, or have yet to be tried in actual foods.

BRC and FDF members are all committed to on-going efforts to reduce salt in their foods wherever possible but, given the limited solutions identified in the report, in the future this is likely to mean salt reduction will be achieved through small changes to individual products rather than dramatic reductions across entire ranges.

With retailers and major brands reaching the limit of what they can do until there are further scientific advances, efforts to reduce salt consumption in the UK should focus on:

- Encouraging companies not currently engaged in the Responsibility Deal to get involved.

- Spreading the successful approaches used by big name retailers and brands to smaller businesses, particularly within catering.

- Consumer education, such as encouraging people to use herbs and spices when cooking and to taste food at the table before adding salt.

British Retail Consortium Deputy Food Director, Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, said: "The UK leads the world in salt reduction and we're approaching the limit of what is currently possible. Producing foods with even less salt but which go off too quickly or lack flavour could simply result in consumers switching to higher salt products. That's no solution.

"Retailers take their commitment to public health extremely seriously and have invested their own money in this research specifically to look for new ways of doing even better on salt. There's no arguing with the science though. Development of new techniques is going to take time and retailers will have to wait for those advances along with everybody else.

"There's no reason for efforts on salt reduction to stand still in the meantime. Other business which lag behind the best or haven't even committed to reducing salt need to catch up. Making our research freely available can help them do that. And there has to be a realistic look at people's behaviour in the home."

Barbara Gallani, Food Safety and Science Director at the FDF, said: "This report illustrates the complexity of salt reduction, and demonstrates the need for all parties to work together if continued progress is to be made to drive down salt consumption.

"LFR were able to undertake such a thorough review due to cooperation from a range of institutions including ingredient manufacturers, academics and CASH.

"We hope this report will be used both by our members and more broadly across the food industry. It has been sent to the Department of Health and the Chair and members of the Responsibility Deal Food Network to inform the next stages of the salt reduction work."

Dr Paul Berryman, Chief Executive at Leatherhead Food Research, said: "Salt reduction is very complex. Each product category presents different challenges because salt affects taste, texture, shelf life and food safety.

"Our research identified some exciting new techniques using mineral salts, potassium replacers, taste enhancers and clever manipulation of salt crystal size and position. These will assist food companies new to salt reduction.

"However, Government should reconsider its discouragement of potassium replacers and give clear guidance on how companies can gain legal approval for novel approaches. Most importantly, we need a standard method to check that salt reduction does not compromise the safety and shelf life of the food. After all, salt is a natural preservative."

Original source: http://www.brc.org.uk/brc_policy_content.asp?id=276&iCat=46&iSubCat=659&sPolicy=Food&sSubPolicy=Nutrition/Salt

Sectors: Commodities & ingredients, Health & wellness

Companies: FDF

View next/previous articles

Currently reading -

UK: FDF, BRC say manufacturers reaching salt reduction limit

There are currently no comments on this article

Be the first to comment on this article

Related articles

Quote, unquote: just-food's week in words

The UK's largest listed retailers reported their quarterly results this week, keeping the just-food news desk busy. Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons all be revealed how they performed over the keenly-watched Christmas trading period. Elsewhere, just-food spoke with HKScan CEO Hannu Kottonen following an announcement by the company that it plans to cut up to 295 jobs as part of efforts to streamline its domestic subsidiaries. Struggling US retailer Supervalu also had news this week, with its deal to offload five of its chains to Cerberus Capital Management.

On the money: Marks & Spencer upbeat on food performance

Marks & Spencer has remained upbeat about the performance of its food division despite a slowdown in like-for-like sales.

COMMENT: Don't scoff too loudly at legal limits on fat in food

Calls for limits on salt, sugar and fat in foods marketed to children in the UK do not seem so far-fetched when one considers the scale of the challenge posed by poor diet.

Welcome to the home of food information, insight & intelligence

Not a member? Join here

Decrease font sizeDecrease font sizeDecrease font size Increase font sizeIncrease font sizeIncrease font size Comment on this article Email this to a friend Print this page