Cereal makers lobby FSA to stop salt warning ads

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Salt Advertising Food standards agency

Leading cereal manufacturers in the UK are meeting the Food Standards Agency (FSA) today to urge the body to pull a £3m (€3.44m) advertising campaign on salt consumption.

Food manufacturers have been cutting the salt content of cereals, but according to a recent Which? report, many cereals still contain an excessive amount of salt. For example, the consumer watchdog said 100g of Tesco Special Flakes contains the same amount of salt as 100g of Walkers Ready Salted crisps.

Working towards the government target of reducing the average adult salt consumption to 6g a day by 2010, the FSA has an ad campaign planned for TV and radio on salt in cereals and other food products.

But with only a month to go before the ads are due to be broadcast the Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers (ACFM), which represents Kellogg’s, Weetabix and Cereal Partners in the UK, has stepped in to try and block the campaign.

Salt reduction

Kellogg’s regional corporate affairs director for Europe, Chris Wermann, claims the FSA is going after the wrong target. He said: “We don’t believe it’s appropriate, considering the volume of salt we actually deliver to the UK diet.”

Cereals now account for 5 per cent of the salt in the UK diet, according to the ACFM. Furthermore, the UK trade body said cereal brands have made great strides to reduce salt content and have succeeded in lowering the average amount of salt in their products by 44 per cent since 1998.

For example, Kellogg’s has​cut some 40 per cent of the salt in its product range over the last 10 years from what the company claims was a relatively low base.

FSA response

The FSA responded to the complaints saying it has no intention to axe the ad campaign but hopes that today’s meeting with cereal makers will allay their fears.

Spokesperson Shaun Whelan told Food Navigator that the intention of the ads is not to demonise cereal manufacturers. Whelan said the ads are about promoting healthier options.

On that note, he praised food companies for the efforts they have made in recent years to develop and market healthier cereals with reduced salt content.

The spokesperson added that the advertising campaign has not picked out cereal in particular, but is targeted at all food products that contain salt.

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