Further salt cuts will pose problems

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Baking

Nick Law: even plant bakeries with the latest kit will find it very difficult to cope with lower salt levels
Nick Law: even plant bakeries with the latest kit will find it very difficult to cope with lower salt levels
Even plant bakeries with the latest kit will find it extremely difficult to cope if health chiefs set lower salt levels under the Public Health Responsibility Deal (PHRD)

That’s the view of Allied Bakeries’ operations director Nick Law who is overseeing a five-year investment programme of the firm's sites which includes the £30M upgrade of its factory in Stockport, which was completed last year.

Law warned that investment would not automatically mean the firm would find it easy to further reduce salt levels especially against a backdrop of a 40% reduction over the past decade and after hitting stringent 2012 PHRD targets.

Not going to be easy

“The investment means we have the best equipment possible to deal with those sort of changes​ [brought on by lowering salt content]. We have very good systems in place, which tell us what is happening to the dough throughout the process and excellent temperature control, so I’d like to think we were sitting as well as we could be to deal with any future changes, but that doesn't mean that it is going to be easy,”​ said Law.

“I’m not saying the kit we have put in couldn’t cope with any more changes but we would have to do a lot of work to make sure we understand the implications of what is happening​ [in the baking process]. Newer kit will mean we are better placed but despite having a large investment programme going on to modernise our estate we will still have older equipment too.”

In May this year it was revealed that Department of Health (DH) officials were of the opinion that there was “further scope” for salt reductions in some bread products, even though industry met its 2012 target of 0.4g of sodium per 100g of product.

‘Vital’

Talks are due to be held between the DH and industry with a view to setting new targets for 2014, but Law said it was vital that the DH understood the important role that salt played in the baking process and that officials acknowledged the efforts that industry had undertaken so far.

“We knew we had to meet the 2012 obligations and I think most people in the industry thought that was pushing it pretty far, but we managed to rise to the challenge,”​ he said.

“Salt plays a key part in the baking process and further reductions could cause problems in terms of how we process some products. So far, with all these initiatives we’ve managed to find ways around it without compromising the quality of the product we are making but any further stretch on that is going to be challenging.”

Related topics Bakery

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