Salt reduction

The politics and the science of salt reduction

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sodium Hypertension Food standards agency Unilever

The decision by Unilever to slash the salt content of its
ubiquitous Pot Noodle snack underlines the current trend in the UK
- but is this trend based on sound science or just political

Unilever has rolled out a 10 million advertising campaign to support the rebranding of its Pot Noodle snack.

The rebrand, which includes new packaging, aims to reinforce the message that the product has no artificial colours and preservatives - and has 28 per cent less salt.

This has pleased salt reduction campaigners who believe that current levels of salt intake are far too high.

"We are pleased to see that Unilever have reduced the salt content of Pot Noodles by, on average, 28 per cent in addition to launching a reduced sodium version of the chicken and mushroom variety,"​ said CASH, the Consensus on Action on Salt and Health, in a recent statement.

"This is a big step forward in reformulation for snack products that rely heavily on salt to provide taste. Once again it illustrates that if Pot Noodle can do it so can all other manufacturers of snack and savoury products."

However Jo Butten, a nutritionist for CASH, said that further salt reductions of were needed across the board in order to meet the FSA (Food Standards Agency) target of 6g of salt a day in adults by 2010.

Not everyone is in agreement.

EuSalt, the European Salt Producers' Association, says there is no evidence that salt causes high blood pressure in healthy people. It argues that scientific evidence refuting the claims of the anti-salt lobby is often ignored, and asks whether salt reduction, which has been pursued vigorously in countries such as the UK, has become a political, rather than scientific, matter.

Food Navigator spoke to two leading campaigners on both sides: Robert Speiser​ chairman of EuSalt, and Graham MacGregor​, chairman of CASH and professor of cardiovascular medicine at St George's University of London. Click on the names to read the interviews.

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