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.