Salt cuts ARE ‘reaching limit’: Leatherhead Food Research

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Salt reduction Salt Food safety Food standards agency

Salt reduction is approaching its limits, confirms Leatherhead Food Research
Salt reduction is approaching its limits, confirms Leatherhead Food Research
Leatherhead Food Research (LFR) has confirmed salt reduction in food is reaching its limits, while rejecting claims that the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) had misrepresented its views.

Last week the lobby group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) accused the FDF and the BRC of misrepresenting the views of a LFR study.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of the lobby group told “The dinosaur-like approach to salt reduction from the FDF and BRC had misrepresented the report from Leatherhead Food Research.”

But today (July 16), Paul Berryman, LFR chief executive told this publication: “No, I do not think FDF/BRC misrepresented the report. 


“The report contains positives and negatives about the ease of salt reduction. It is not unexpected that CASH would tend to highlight the positives and industry bodies would tend to highlight the difficulties.”

Responding to the criticism from CASH, Barbara Gallani, FDF food safety and science director, said: “We don’t say all further advances are impossible but it's likely that they will be much smaller and on individual products rather than entire ranges. We retain an on-going commitment to salt reduction.

“Government advice is currently that potassium cannot be used as a replacement for salt due to the issues it poses for people with renal health problems. The report urges the government to clarify and if necessary update that advice.”

Health problems

Speaking before CASH claimed his work had been misrepresented, Berryman said: “Salt reduction is very complex. Each product category presents different challenges because salt affects taste, texture, shelf-life and food safety.”

“Our research identified some exciting new techniques using mineral salts, potassium replacers, taste enhancers and clever manipulation of salt crystal size and position. These will assist food companies new to salt reduction.”

Berryman backed calls for the government to reconsider its discouragement of potassium replacers and give clear guidance on how companies can gain legal approval for novel approaches. “Most importantly, we need a standard method to check that salt reduction does not compromise the safety and shelf-life of the food. After all, salt is a natural preservative.”

Meanwhile,​ MacGregor said that discussion should now focus on a further 10​15% reduction in salt targets beyond the 2012 levels. But the targets should be agreed with the Food Standards Agency and the food industry in a consultative way.

A technical committee on salt is being set up and CASH's view is that further targets should be set for 2014 and 2018, he added.

To read more about CASH’s dinosaur allegations, click here​.

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