Diaz told FoodManufacture.co.uk the low salt movement would gather momentum in retail and foodservice channels, highlighting news that chip shops were uniting to slash sodium use on fish & chips.
According to national press reports, 200 UK fish and chip shops have already replaced regular salt with a low-sodium alternative made by LoSalt in their salt shakers.
Similar products, including Solo-Lite, which boasts 30% less sodium than standard salt, were available for use by food manufacturers, said Diaz. “I know of at least one manufacturer working on a new healthy range using Solo-Lite as an ingredient,” he added. “I think it’s an interesting product.”
With obesity at the forefront of consumers’ minds, retailers had seized on the wider healthy eating trend, he said. Ranges such as Marks & Spencer’s Count on Us, comprising products containing less than 3% fat, and Waitrose’s Love Life healthy meals and snacks were examples of that, he claimed.
Health of the nation
They showed nutritious food could also be tasty, said Diaz. “This is a trend that is set to grow with consumer awareness – not a bad thing for the health of the nation.” With FIS, Diaz advises major retailers and manufacturers on product development.
His comments followed the online release of a study, ahead of publication in the journal Hypertension, indicating children consume too much salt, much of it in bread and cereals.
Crisps and snacks only accounted for 5% of salt intakes, with more than a third coming from bread and cereals. Meat products and dairy products were the other major contributors, according to the paper, Salt intake in children and adolescents in south London [Authors: Naomi Marrero; Feng He; Peter Whincup; Graham McGregor; doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.113.02264]
Under the terms of the study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, parents of 340 children were asked to keep a detailed food diary and photograph all foodstuffs consumed by their offspring. Researchers also analysed urine samples from the group of children for salt levels.
Kids aged eight to nine were found to remain within the recommended daily salt intake for that age group (4.75g versus the 5g recommendation). However, five and six-year-olds exceeded their 3g limit by 0.75g and 13-17-year-olds at 7.55g, against their 6g threshold. Boys were found to have a higher intake than girls.
High blood pressure
“We know salt starts increasing the risk of high blood pressure in children starting at age one,” said MacGregor, chairman of Consensus Action on Salt & Health and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts. “There needs to be a much greater effort to reduce salt in foods.”
MacGregor is also spearheading the Action on Sugar campaign to cut use of sugar in food and drink products.
Meantime, the Scottish Food and Drink Federation highlighted manufacturers’ efforts to help cut salt out of butchers’ sausages.
The trade body said its reformulation programme had worked with four of the main UK seasoning companies, Dalesman, Dalziel, Kerry Group and Scobie & Junor to create low salt seasonings for butchers.
For pork and beef sausage seasonings, Dalziel committed to cut the salt content by up to 33% and Dalesman is targeting 20% reductions.
Kerry aims to slash salt content in its pork sausage seasonings by up to 35%, while Scobie & Junor wants to reduce salt in its sausage seasonings by 20%.