FSA publishes tough salt reduction targets

Manufacturers will face more pressure to reduce salt levels in meat under tough new salt reduction targets, published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The FSA said its revised targets are more challenging than previous targets to “make sure food retailers and manufacturers maintain the momentum in reducing salt levels” and reflect the Agency’s long-term commitment to reducing people’s average salt intake to 6g a day.

With 75% of the salt eaten by the UK population already in foods, the targets have been set for foods that make the greatest contribution of salt to British diets, including meat products and convenience foods such as pizza, ready meals and savoury snacks.

Rosemary Hignett, head of nutrition at the FSA, said: “The UK is leading the way in Europe and beyond in salt reduction. The reductions which have already been achieved in the UK are already saving lives.

“To continue to make progress we have set 2012 targets at levels that will make a further real impact on consumers’ intakes, while taking into account technical and safety issues associated with taking salt out of food.”

Responding to the publication of the revised salt targets, the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) director of communications Julian Hunt said that food manufacturers are “committed” to reducing salt levels, but warned that sufficient progress might be difficult in the timescale set by the FSA.

We believe that targets are a relatively simplistic approach to driving progress and we’ve outlined to FSA where the particular challenges lie,” he said.

In some circumstances, further significant salt reductions will not be possible until new, innovative technologies, processing techniques and ingredient solutions are developed.”

The FSA has recognised that the 2012 targets are “challenging”, but said it believes they are also “achievable”. The Agency added that it will continue to work closely with industry to monitor its progress and will run further public awareness activity on salt in autumn 2009.

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