UK food manufacturers have set out plans for salt reductions over a variety of products, just two weeks after the government strongly criticised the industry for failing to significantly reduce salt levels in processed foods.

The Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, said the plans, shared with the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency, demonstrate the industry’s willingness to play its part in tackling food and health issues.

“The industry is committed to playing a constructive role in Government’s food and health plans, and has made huge strides, welcomed by the Food Standards Agency, in reducing salt across a range of products.  However, working in a consumer democracy means that we can only move at the pace dictated by consumers. A reduced salt product which is left on the shelf by consumers or to which they add salt at the table, will not benefit anyone,” said Martin Paterson, deputy director general of the Food and Drink Federation.

The plans include a reduction in the salt content of some meat products, further reduction in the salt content of sliced bread, branded soups and meal sauces, cereals, snacks, biscuits and cakes.

Earlier this month Public Health Minister Melanie Johnson singled out many of the UK’s main food manufacturers for failing to sufficiently reduce salt in their products.

According to a report in The Times, the government planned to warn manufacturers that if they do not significantly reduce the salt content of their products, it could introduce legislation requiring health warnings on products that contain high levels of salt.

Johnson also criticised the industry’s plans for often lacking details and specific actions.

“What is needed are real commitments for key product categories such as pizza, breakfast cereals, sandwiches and ready-made meals to ensure that we reach the necessary reduction in salt intakes from processed foods,” she was quoted by The Times as saying.