Salt

Salt Reduction 2024

Earlier this year, Public health England (PHE) consulted with industry on new salt reduction targets.  Their ambition was set out in the green paper ‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’ with the aim to reduce the population’s salt intakes to 7g per day.  The recommended population average salt intake is 6g per day to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Voluntary salt reduction targets for industry have been around for quite some time with those set in 2014 building on three earlier sets (2006, 2008 and 2011).  The aim was to gradually reduce the levels of salt in the foods that contribute the most salt to our diet.

By 2018, PHE’s progress report showed that 81% of products were meeting the targets for 2017.

The new targets are to be achieved by 2024 and are based on the 2017 targets with revisions made where it is believed there is further scope for salt reduction.  Retailers and manufacturers should ensure their products meet the targets in table 1 and that foods offered for eating out of home such as those from in-store cafes, food on the go and takeaway should meet those in table 2.  Businesses who provide food and meals as part of the eating out, takeaway and delivery sector should ensure the foods they purchase or make meet the relevant targets in both tables.

Some notable changes to table 1 from the previous 2017 salt targets are:

  • The salted butter category now includes flavoured butters and buttery spreads such as garlic butter
  • The ready meal category has a new sub-category for sides and accompaniments e.g. bhajis, onion rings, coated garlic mushrooms
  • Salt and vinegar products category specifically lists popcorn and nuts in addition to crisps and snacks
  • New sub-categories for savoury and sweet popcorn and flavoured nuts
  • All flavours of ketchup and mayonnaise are now included as well as vegan alternatives
  • New sub-categories for chilli sauces, dips and condiments such as horseradish, tartare, seafood and mint sauce.

Table 2 includes targets for 11 food categories based on the 10 most popular food groups purchased in the eating out, takeaway and delivery sector and a specific target for children’s main meals.  These comprise of a ‘dish target’ where the food can be served as a meal on its own e.g. burgers, pies and chips, and a ‘meal target’ where a specific dish includes sides/accompaniment e.g. pasta dish with garlic bread and a side salad.

Businesses are expected to start working towards these new targets whilst also working to reduce levels of sugar and calories.  PHE plans to report on progress in 2022.

AB Food Nutrition works with manufacturers and caterers to provide nutrient composition values of their products for labelling & menu boards and also during product development or reformulation. We can work with you to assess the impact recipe changes will have on nutritional content as well as advising on ways to achieve a desired nutritional profile such as reducing salt, sugar and calories.  Contact Anne for further information about our nutrition and labelling services.

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Look our for hidden salt – 17th Salt Awareness Week House of Commons Reception, 2016

hidden salt cash logo

Salt Awareness Week is an annual campaign, run by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), to help reduce the amount of salt in our diets and, as a result, improve public health. Since its inception in 1996, a lot of progress has been made – a number of foods are now 50% lower in salt than they were 10 years ago. However, many of us are still consuming more than the recommended maximum intake of 6g of salt a day, which means that there is still work to be done.
[Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of CASH] It is now 20 years since it was first set out to reduce salt in the UK. We are still well away from the 6g max per day – we all have a responsibility to read food labels and choose foods with less salt.

HoC

The House of Commons reception is an opportunity for Industry & MPs to join and discuss the future of salt reduction in the UK. Exhibitors this year included Co-op, Waitrose, Subway, Kudos Blends, Low Salt, McCain and Stroke Association, with many other supporters of the week itself.

[Sir David Amess, MP] CASH survey – released at the start of salt awareness week found that salt had increased in DApopular supermarket foods: Canned Tomato Soup, White Bread, Cheddar, Cornflakes and Chilled Ready Meals. Some were found to contain more salt that a Big Mac or slice of Dominos Pizza and bread is one of the largest contributors of salt in the UK diet. The Responsibility Deal is to blame. Since 2010, the food industry has been policing itself and little has been done to reduce salt in products. When the FSA were responsible, they set targets for 86 categories resulting in salt reductions that effectively saved the NHS £1.5 billion.  Decreasing salt by just a pinch a day can prevent 4,000 deaths from stroke every year.

Urgent action is needed to improve the nation’s health and an independent agency needs to be responsible for setting targets for salt, sugar and saturated fat.

[Lord John Krebs, Former Chairman FSA] 2003 SACN report on salt & health found that reducing salt would benefit LKeveryone not just hypertensives. Salt was the cheapest way to flavour food that had none or little flavour – so the food industry were concerned that consumers wouldn’t like it. One year later came the “Sid the Slug” TV campaign after which major retailers noted that consumer queries were mainly about salt. Reducing salt then became a marketing advantage, so despite a 15% reduction in between 2003-2011 it is disappointing that 20 years later efforts have slowed or reversed. More must be done whether it means working with industry or regulation. There needs to be more use of food chemistry/sensory techniques to look at salt alternatives more creatively. Salt is one of the easiest nutrients to reduce, but there should also be focus on fat and sugar – dietary disease is just as much an issue as alcohol and smoking.

 

[Andrew Gwynne, MP] Between 1998-2000 salt in cereals decreased 44%, 2004-2008 salt from out of home DGpurchases decreased one third. It is sad to see this has slowed – the Responsibility Deal has failed and we have seen those steps forward made going back again. It is hoped that when the Childhood Obesity Strategy is launched – that it will tackle high salt food. Labour opposition will do all that they can to make sure Government steps up to its responsibility. They will support Government in making sure messages are heard and in legislation if it’s needed because the public health gains are too important.

 

 

[Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of CASH] In the 20 years since CASH was set up, we now know that diet is Profthe biggest cause of death/disease. Nutrition was taken away from the Department of Health to the FSA – this was a great move in reducing salt in the UK. Around the world, approx. 70 countries have copied the UK plan with slight modifications such as regulation. Many members of industry would prefer legislation – as this creates a level playing field. Andrew Lansley restructured the health service, introducing the Responsibility Deal and putting the food industry in charge. This hasn’t worked. The latest NDNS 24 hour urinary sodium excretion result will be available soon and using this CASH will be able to calculate the number of deaths that should have been prevented since the control for salt reduction was taken away from the FSA. The Responsibility Deal was under the coalition government so is now finished and nothing is happening. Hoping that this year there will be positive news from the Prime Minister.

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