The first salt reduction report, looking at how the food industry is performing with regards to the government’s salt reduction targets, has been published by Public Health England (PHE). The outcome of the report is mixed.
Intake of too much salt can be dangerously unhealthy, having been associated with increased blood pressure leading to cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is a main reason for early death in adults in Britain, as it can cause both heart attacks and strokes.
Initiated in 2014, the food industry targets applied to manufacturers, retailers, and the out-of-home sector e.g. restaurants, pubs. The targets were to be achieved by 2017, and covered 28 food categories, including crisps, bread, and ready meals. The foods covered account for over half the nation’s salt intake.
Targets were set by means of salt content per 100g of product. Different maximum targets were set for different category of products. For example, 3.75g in curry paste, and 0.13g in tinned vegetables.
For the out-of-home sector, the report shows 7 out of 10 foods did not surpass the maximum salt content. The report also stated that salt levels in out-of-home products are on average higher than comparable in-home products.
The report found manufacturers and retailers did not perform as well. Just over half of all salt reduction targets were achieved, whilst retailers showed better reductions than manufacturers. The meat category performed the worst, meeting none of its targets. On the other hand, nine food categories achieved all their set targets, including baked beans and breakfast cereals.
Whilst we are moving in the right direction with reducing our salt intake, we are still some way off achieving the recommended daily intake of 6 grams a day. Since the salt reduction programme was initiated, our salt intake has reduced by 11% to 8 grams, so we seem well on the way to achieving targets.