Food industry commits to salt reduction by 2010 in Ireland

By staff writer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Salt Food

The market for salt-reduced food formulations set to rise in
Ireland as government and scientists launch campaign to slice the
salt from consumer diets.

Eating too much salt is a significant risk factor in developing high blood pressure, itself a cause, or contributing factor, to the world's number one killer, heart disease.

In 2003 coronary heart disease, stroke or other diseases of the circulatory system accounted for more premature deaths - 39 per cent - than cancer in Ireland.

At a meeting in Dublin yesterday Irish epidemiologist, Professor Ivan Perry, outlined the need for Irish salt intake to halve over the next 5-7 years to prevent a substantial number of deaths from heart disease and related conditions.

"We need to see a concerted effort both from industry and the public to lower salt levels,"​ said Professor Perry.

Condemned for contributing to the worsening health problems in the population, food makers are under orders to cut salt levels in their processed food formulations.

The UK government estimates that processed foods, from soups and sauces to breakfast cereals and snacks, contribute a considerable 75 per cent to people's salt intakes.

In a bid to ensure consumers hit the recommended salt-intake target of 6g a day, the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has developed a joint venture with the food industry to self-regulate and reformulate fast foods to cut salt from the recipes.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), the voice of the UK food industry, last week confirmed the sector's commitment to slicing salt away.

"We are doing our bit by reducing salt in a huge range of products and providing better, simpler information through improved labelling,"​ said Martin Paterson, FDF deputy director general.

Speaking yesterday, Dr Wayne Anderson, chief specialist Food Science, at the government's Food Safety Authority of Ireland, confirmed industry's commitment.

"We have secured agreement with a wide range of food companies and industry bodies to support a national salt reduction policy to reduce the level of salt in manufactured foods by 2010,"​ he said.

But replacing this cheap flavour enhancer is a challenge for food developers.

At €0.21 a kilo, any alternatives to salt will add unwanted costs to new product formulations. But salt, a seasoning and preservative composed of 40 per cent sodium and 60 per cent chlorine, plays a pivotal role in multiple foods on the market.

Related topics Ingredients

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