Health

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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Why you should choose your fats and oils wisely!

You may be fully aware that different cooking oils have different properties and flavours, for example, those with a higher smoke point like sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil are better for roasting and frying, whereas virgin/cold-pressed oils are better kept for use in salad dressings and for drizzling.

But then, there is the media hype – coconut oil being endorsed by celebrities as the latest ‘superfood’ when in reality it contains more saturated fat than butter or lard! There is in fact very limited evidence for the beneficial health effects of coconut oil which is really driven by marketing and not science!  A small amount of fat in the diet is essential of course, to help us absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, but many of us are consuming too much saturated fat.  Earlier this year the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published their report on the role of saturated fats and health concluding that the current dietary advice did not need to change – in that saturated fats should not exceed around 10% of total food energy.  Swapping saturated fats with unsaturated fats has been found to lower levels of blood cholesterol which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke and although we all need to take action, food manufacturers and caterers have a particular responsibility in helping people to do this.

So, what can you, as a food producer do when it comes to choosing your cooking oil?

Swapping to an oil higher in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat will not only help to reduce the overall saturated fat content of your products, but could also save you money as well!

However, fatty acids are sensitive to heat, light and oxygen so treat them with care during storage.  Cooking can also change the chemical structure which not only can produce ‘off flavours’ but leads to the destruction of vitamins and loss of nutritional value. 

And finally, remember – all oils are calorie-dense and should be used sparingly, so it’s also a good idea to look for ways to reduce or replace the amount of fats and oils you use in producing your foods.

AB Food Nutrition works with manufacturers to provide nutrient composition values of their products for labelling or 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 saturated fat in addition to advising on which nutrition or health claims you can use in product marketing.  Contact Anne for further information about our nutrition and labelling services.

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