Salt reduction at standstill

FOOD MANUFACTURERS and retailers have announced that they are approaching “the limit of what’s possible” in terms of removing salt from their products.


New research, commissioned by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) showed that there are methods to extract more salt but the need considerably more scientific development and have yet to be tested in foods.


BRC and FDF said that the research, undertaken by Leatherhead Food Research (LFR), suggested that in the future salt reductions are likely to be achieved through small changes to individual products rather than dramatic changes across ranges.


Consumers groups have suggested the FDF and BRC are using the findings to slow progress.


“We must not be put off by a ‘dinosaur like’ approach from the BRC and FDF,” said Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute, and chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH).


McGregor said he was confident companies will meet government targets to reduce salt intake to a maximum of 6g per day.


Both the BRC and FDF said members are all committed to on-going efforts to reduce salt in their foods wherever possible but they were reaching the limit of what they could do, so efforts to reduce salt consumption in the UK should focus on companies not currently engaged in the Responsibility Deal.


BRC 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.”


“There’s no reason for efforts on salt reduction to stand still in the meantime. Other businesses 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.”