Campaigners have long called for reductions in salt levels because of its association with high blood pressure, but a new report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) says high salt intake can also cause stomach cancer.
According to the WCRF, one-in-seven stomach cancers in the UK could be prevented if people kept their salt intake within the recommended daily limit of 6g.
Kate Mendoza, head of health information at WCRF, said: “Stomach cancer is difficult to treat successfully because most cases are not caught until the disease is well established.
“This places even greater emphasis on making lifestyle choices to prevent the disease occurring in the first place – such as cutting down on salt intake and eating more fruit and vegetables.”
Because much of people’s daily salt intake comes from processed food, Mendoza said the WCRF was calling on food manufacturers and retailers to introduce the ‘traffic-light’ system for food labelling – red for high levels, amber for medium and green for low. She said this would help consumers make a healthy choice.
However, Barbara Gallani, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) director of food science and safety, said that food labelling already gave consumers all the information they needed to make an informed choice.
She explained: “Thanks to the enormous commitment shown by manufacturers and retailers who have voluntarily incorporated nutrition information on their packs, people now have access to clear and consistent information based on Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs). GDA labelling is by far the most popular scheme in use in the UK and GDA values are now embedded in EU food law.”
She added that UK manufacturers were leading the world when it comes to reformulating products to be lower in salt.
She said: “In fact, Kantar Worldwide’s recent research looking at the nutrition information for approximately 28,000 branded products made by FDF members found that our members have collectively reduced the amount of salt in their foods by 9% across the board to an average of 0.31g per 100g of product between 2006 and 2011.
“This achievement, of course, stands on top of the progress made by industry before 2006 – and many individual categories of food have made even more progress than this average figure.
“Building on their demonstrable track record on salt to date, many of our members signed up to the UK government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, which includes pledges on salt reduction.”
Last week, Leatherhead Food Research (LFR) denied claims by lobby group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) that its views on salt reduction had been misrepresented by the FDF and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The FDF and the BRC had said a report by LFR showed that salt reduction in food was reaching its limits. For more on this story click here: