The UK food industry has received praise from the country’s government for initiatives around reducing consumer salt intake, which have contributed to a drop in salt consumption.
According to Public Health England’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, average salt consumption for adults in 2014 was 8g per day. This has fallen from 8.5g in 2011 and 8.8g in 2005-06. Overall salt intake has fallen by 11% since the 2005 to 2006 survey.
Targets were set in 2003 after The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published its report on Salt and Health. It said the population salt intake should be reduced to no more than 6 grams/day for adults.
The government began a programme of reformulation work with the food industry aimed at reducing the salt content of processed food products. Voluntary salt reduction targets were first set in 2006 for a range of food categories that contribute the most to the population’s salt intakes. These were revised in 2009 and 2011 to take account of industry achievements in salt reduction.
Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “The majority of the salt we eat is in everyday foods so it’s important to check labels and choose lower salt options. Many manufacturers and retailers have significantly reduced the salt levels in everyday foods. However, more needs to be done, especially by restaurants, cafes and takeaways”.
Manufacturers and retailers are now working towards new targets to be met by 2017.
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Responding to the news, corporate affairs director at industry body FDF Tim Rycroft highlighted the progress that the food sector has made but acknowledged that further action is also necessary. “Salt consumption in the UK has been on a downward trend for years, with voluntary recipe change from Britain’s food and drink producers credited with driving much of this progress. FDF members alone have on average cut salt in their products by 8% since 2011,” he said. “As today’s data show, intakes of salt continue to drop, albeit at a slower rate. Continued public education and action from more companies across the food industry is needed to drive further progress. Producers of packaged foods, which have been at the forefront of this work, are finding it harder to further reduce salt without compromising product safety, quality, taste or shelf-life.”