UK food companies under fire for salt levels

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

There are calls for mandatory salt reduction targets Source: Getty
There are calls for mandatory salt reduction targets Source: Getty

Related tags: Supply chain

UK food companies are being targeted by campaigners who want the Government to introduce mandatory target on salt levels in food.

In a letter to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a group of over 236 nutritionists, dietitians, researchers, pharmacists, nurses and GPs – including the Royal Society for Public Health, the Faculty of Public Health, Blood Pressure UK, Early Start Nutrition, Heart UK and London Early Years Foundation – (plus members of the public) have joined together to call on the UK Government to prioritise a health policy for the food industry by introducing comprehensive and mandatory salt targets. 

The letter said that most salt intake comes from purchasing food, with processed foods contributing to 75% of daily salt intake.  

It added: “This cannot be removed by the individual, therefore putting responsibility on the public for their own individual salt reduction is doomed for failure when our food is full of it. It is the food industry who should and must be held accountable.”

Voluntary measures

Spearheaded by Action on Salt, the group has said that the food industry has proven they cannot comply with voluntary measures. 

It said that despite the Food Standards Agency successfully setting voluntary salt reduction targets in 2004 across more than 80 categories of processed food “progress has since stalled.”

“Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure for lowering blood pressure and reducing the number of people suffering and dying from strokes, heart disease and life changing disabilities,”​ said Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, and Chairman of Action on Salt. 

Enforcement

“Food companies have the very simple option to reformulate with less salt and help prevent the many thousands of people who currently die unnecessarily. However, companies are making very little effort to comply with the current voluntary targets.

"As a result, the amount of salt the nation eats is not falling. Therefore, the Government must enforce its comprehensive salt reduction targets without delay.”

Last year, Action on Salt increased pressure on Government to legislate on salt levels in food items as it has published its latest research into plant-based foods.

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