Food reformulation ensures 5.3% reduction in salt levels within two years

Posted by James Ferre on 3rd February 2010

The salt content of food bought in UK supermarkets has reduced by the equivalent of nearly 8,000 tonnes in the past two years, according to new research.

The research, conducted by Kantar Worldpanel on behalf of the Food and Drink Federation – the leading representative of manufacturers in the UK, analysed the information on the nutrition labels of 100,000 products bought by 25,000 households and found the net salt content of all purchases decreased by 7,667 tonnes – or 5.3% – between September 2007 and September 2009.

A number of categories saw significant decreases during that period. In the chilled convenience goods/ready meals sector, the products bought by consumers contained 18.75% less salt. The salt content of canned goods fell by 12.1% over the same period and decreased by 8.6% in the bread and morning goods sector.

“Changing recipes is a complex and costly process,” Julian Hunt, FDF’s Director of Communications, advised. “But food manufacturers have been working hard to reduce the salt in their products in a way that does not impact taste or quality. These new figures clearly demonstrate that our efforts continue to make a real difference for consumers.”

The reformulation of food to cut salt content has been a major talking point in recent years as consumer salt intake hovers well above recommended levels in most major markets. A recent Australian report found significant potential for further reformulation, although manufacturers need to adopt a slow and steady approach to ensure they don’t cross the fine line that sees a reduction of salt adversely impact on taste.