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It's time for FSA salt reduction targets to take a reality check

By Rick Pendrous , 26-May-2009

It's time for FSA salt reduction targets to take a reality check

Industry welcomes change after criticising 'impossible' reduction targets for 2012

Tim Smith, chief executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has called on bakers to meet his specialists to thrash out realistic targets for salt reduction in bread.

The move follows industry criticism that the revised 2012 targets published in May were not technically achievable.

At the Federation of Bakers' annual conference last month, Smith acknowledged that the "one size fits all" approach of the new targets was "not particularly helpful". His comments came in the week the FSA published revised voluntary targets for 80 food categories, which included a maximum of 400mg of sodium (1g salt) per 100g of bread and rolls.

"There's no point in setting impossible targets," said Smith. "We want a strong and vibrant bread industry. We need to have a salt reduction target that is achievable. We need to get back together in a room to sort it out."

At a separate meeting in the same week, Marks & Spencer (M&S) technical manager Simon Allison admitted the retailer had overstepped consumer acceptance in its salt reduction. "For some products we went too far," said Allison.

He said M&S would not increase salt content across the board, but was considering doing so for products where it had reduced salt content to levels below comparable brands. Older consumers in particular rejected "insufficiently seasoned" products, he said.

At the Scottish Food and Drink Federation's conference in May, Fraser Hogg, technical director of ingredients supplier Macphie of Glenbervie, said: "The FSA's proposals aren't always commercially practical."

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