Health Care

Health officials 'dithering' over salt levels

Health officials 'dithering' over salt levels

Health campaigners have accused some food manufacturers and retailers of "dragging their heels" over the UK's salt reduction targets for 2017.

But of the 28 categories tested, only "bread rolls" has so far met the 2017 maximum - but not average - salt targets.

Its campaign director Katharine Jenner said: "Salt is the forgotten killer".

CASH claimed that cutting average salt intakes in the United Kingdom could prevent up to 14,000 deaths each year.

An Aldi spokesperson said: "We are fully committed to the UK Responsibility Deal 2017 Salt Targets and are continuously working to reduce salt levels across our range".

The campaign group called on United Kingdom health authorities to "immediately ensure" that the 2017 goals are met and that new salt reduction targets are set for 2020.

Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chair of Cash, said the findings were a national scandal.

A 3g reduction of daily salt intake could lead to a £350 million saving in NHS healthcare costs.

Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate powder had just over 0.6g of salt per 25g serving - or 2.5g per 100g - more than the 0.15g per 100g target.

The survey also compared the salt content between "healthy" and "unhealthy" food using data from the major supermarkets.

Baxters said many of its products were within the guideline levels for salt content and that it monitored its recipes for nutritional content.

Sarah Alderton, Nutritionist at CASH adds "Our new and improved FoodSwitch UK app has been created to help consumers make healthier and more informed choices when shopping by showing traffic light colour labelling and recommending healthier product alternatives based on well researched criteria. This is why we're talking to retailers, manufacturers, and the eating-out-of-home sector on how they go further and faster to reaching the 2017 salt reduction targets".

But Tim Rycroft, director of corporate affairs at the United Kingdom industry lobby, Food and Drink Federation (FDF), said food producers have invested heavily to adapt their recipes to cut salt, pointing to Kantar World Panel data which showed an 8% reduction when comparing levels over a one-year period in 2011 and 2015.

"We congratulate the other, more responsible manufacturers that have successfully achieved them, or are on track to meet them by the end of the year - which shows it is possible".

"The food industry has reduced the amount of salt found in our foods by 11% in recent years, which is encouraging progress", she said.

"We know there is more to do".

According to a separate independent national poll, only 40% of people know that a teaspoon (6g) of salt is the maximum amount of salt you should have in a day, with almost a quarter of the population (23%) being unsure what the correct answer is. "With only nine months to go, action must be taken now".

The general population believed that ready meals, crisps, savoury snacks and salt added to food during cooking contributed the most to the salt intake.

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