Supermarket group Asda has highlighted figures that show it has taken 900 tonnes of salt out of its products, as part of a battle to reduce salt levels in the nation’s food.

As Salt Awareness Day begins at the House of Commons, London, today [Tuesday], Asda has confirmed that it has exceeded its salt-reduction goals since its campaign to that effect began in October 1998.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) launched the annual Salt Awareness Day in 1998 to highlight the high levels of hidden salt found in processed foods and to emphasise how salt intakes can be reduced. Asda has to date taken the equivalent to 1.5kg of salt out of its 4000 own-label processed food products since its salt reduction initiative began in late 1998.

Based on an average daily diet, Asda has reduced the sodium contribution in its customers’ diets by an estimated 8%.

A 1994 COMA report showed that a one third reduction in salt consumption would save 34,000 lives every year. A high salt intake can lead to high blood pressure – a key factor in stroke and heart attacks and is believed to aggravate conditions such as asthma, osteoporosis and kidney disease.

CASH project co-ordinator, Gaynor Bussell, said: “The main emphasis of Salt Awareness Day this year is how salt can often be the forgotten message when talking about a healthy diet. Leading supermarkets, such as Asda, are vitally important in making sure the salt message is not forgotten – Asda acted in a practical way to ensure the UK public has a chance of reducing its high salt intake and ultimately are saving lives!”

Asda nutritionist Sue Malcolm said: “We have done what many people thought we couldn’t do, we have reduced salt levels in Asda’s food and drink, for the health benefit of our customers, without compromising on taste, quality, shelf-life or price.”