UK leads world in salt reduction, claims FDF
the country's Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
The industry association has backed manufacturers' efforts to reformulate their products - despite pressure group criticisms that many processed foods still contain too much salt. "Food manufacturers have made huge progress in reducing levels of salt in food," said Julian Hunt, FDF director of communications. "In addition our members provide 'salt equivalent' information on packs as well as the legally required 'sodium' information where practicable. "They are also increasingly providing at-a-glance information on salt on the front of packs to help busy shoppers." FDF claims that its latest survey shows that members have reformulated £7.4bn worth of products to have lower levels of salt compared to the year before, while £2.4bn worth of products have been launched with lower salt variants. In addition, 25 food and drink companies and five leading supermarket retailers have opted to put at-a-glance Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) information on the front of pack, which means the GDA icons are now appearing on the front of more than 10,000 lines. "Putting GDA information on the front of packs represents a major change in the industry's efforts to help consumers become even better informed about what's inside the packs they are buying, which includes providing information related to Government's 6g salt population target," said the FDF. Some groups however have questioned the success the food industry has had in reducing salt in processed food. For example, campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), while applauding the UK for leading the way on salt reduction, wants more to be done. The organisation recently urged consumers to boycott foods that still contain large and unnecessary amounts of added salt. It said that shoppers should not to buy products that contain either more than 1.25g of salt (0.5g of sodium) per 100g or more than 2.4g of salt per serving, and hopes that this will force manufacturers to take action and reformulate excessively salty foods. "If we halve our salt intake, i.e. make a reduction of 6g/day from the current intake of 10-12g, we will save approximately 70,000 people from developing strokes and heart attacks each year, 35,000 of which are fatal," said CASH chairman Graham MacGregor. The FDF said that the industry was committed to working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) towards its 2010 salt target of six grams of salt per day for the general population. However, it insisted that people should take a realistic view on salt reduction. "It is a common misconception that salt can easily be removed from manufactured products. In fact, salt curing is one of the earliest known forms of food preservation for meat and fish," said the FDF. "By simply removing salt from manufactured products, many well known and popular foods could change significantly. Food is not purely about the functionality of getting all the nutrients our body needs and in the right proportion, it is also about pleasure. "People will not eat food which does not taste good."