The UK's Food Standards Agency has added a healthy eating message to its Christmas eating advice, which traditionally focuses on avoiding food poisoning.

The FSA has issued "food survival tips" for the Christmas period on its new consumer website. As well as advising how to store, defrost and cook a turkey properly to avoid food poisoning, the FSA is urging consumers to keep an eye on the amount of salt they are eating over the festive period. The agency advises consumers to look for food products that contain low levels of salt or sodium, to cook Christmas dinner with little or no added salt and to avoid adding salt to homemade sauces. The advice suggests other ways to flavour food rather than adding salt.

This adds to the FSA's campaign, launched in September, to encourage people to cut down on the amount of salt they eat to help prevent the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Besides salt content, the FSA is also advising consumers to check the fat and sugar content of Christmas treats such as mince pies and Christmas puddings. The agency suggests eating breakfast on Christmas Day to prevent snacking on chocolates during the day; Christmas dinner should include plenty of vegetables, while Christmas pudding could be served with yoghurt or fresh fruit instead of traditional brandy butter.

Whether people will heed the agency's advice when it comes to healthy eating at Christmas remains to be seen; it is, after all, seen as a time for indulgence, when diets are forgotten until the New Year.