New research claims that some manufacturers are ignoring government calls to cut salt levels in products aimed at children.
A child's intake of salt could be six times the recommended daily limit through eating products specifically marketed at him or her, said the campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH). Chairman Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine, praised manufacturers which had reduced salt, but said: "Many are still making food for children that contains more salt per serving than a child should be eating in a whole day."
In a survey of 100 children's products, CASH found 30% contained 2g or more of salt per single serving, the daily limit for one-to three-year-olds, and 9% contained 3g or more per serving, the daily limit for four- to six-year-olds. Two were saltier than seawater.
MacGregor said high salt levels raised blood pressure in children and that cutting back prevented cardiovascular disease in later life.
However, some sectors of industry believe the link between salt and ill health still has to be proved. At a seminar organised by the Society of Food Hygiene Technology (SoFHT) and the Royal Society of Chemistry, the US-based trade association the Salt Institute, which has UK company members, suggested that lowering sodium might adversely affect health. Chairman Richard Hanneman said: "As a policy, salt reduction is based on ignorance -- we need clinical trials."
The SoFHT chairman Neil Griffiths said the speed at which manufacturers had been forced to cut salt could lead to health risks through spoilage. Much of the science, he said, was contradictory.