UK sets new salt reduction targets for the food industry

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th May 2009

The UK’s Food Standards Agency has today published revised, voluntary salt reduction targets for industry to meet by 2012 – offering more challenging targets to the food industry.

The revision has been set for 80 categories of foods, to ensure continued momentum in reducing salt levels is maintained by food retailers and manufacturers, the food standards body advised.

Around 75% of the salt consumed is already in everyday foods, the FSA said, with the targets being set for foods that make the greatest contribution of salt to our diet, such as bread, meat products and cereals, as well as convenience foods such as pizza, ready meals and savoury snacks.

“When the 2010 targets were first set in 2006, the Agency committed to reviewing them in 2008,” the FSA noted in a statement. “During this review the Agency welcomed the considerable reductions that have been made by many manufacturers and retailers. The revised targets reflect this progress. However, there remains significant variation in salt levels that exist between different products and there is clearly scope for some parts of industry to do more.”

Rosemary Hignett, Head of Nutrition at the Food Standards Agency, said that the region was leading the way on salt reduction, but they could not rest on their laurels. “The reductions which have already been achieved in the UK are already saving lives,” she advised. “To continue to make progress we have set 2012 targets at levels that will make a further real impact on consumers’ intakes, while taking into account technical and safety issues associated with taking salt out of food.”

“We welcome the reductions in salt levels that have already been achieved by industry, and its continued cooperation is vital if we are to continue to improve public health. The 2012 targets are challenging, but we also believe them to be achievable, though we will continue to monitor this.”

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents UK food and beverage manufacturers, reported a desire to continue working with the FSA, although cautioned that some goals might be difficult to meet without new technology.

“It’s great to see the FSA recognises that manufacturers have made considerable reductions in salt levels to date, and – as we have been saying for some time – that the UK is leading the world in this area,” FDF Director of Communications, Julian Hunt, said. “FDF’s members are committed to working with FSA to continue reducing levels of salt in our products and providing lower salt options where technologically possible, safe and acceptable to consumers. As always, food safety is industry’s first priority.”

“We’ll work with our members to understand where the challenges are greatest and whether further investment will see sufficient progress in the timescale set by FSA. In some circumstances, further significant salt reductions will not be possible until new, innovative technologies, processing techniques and ingredient solutions are developed,” he concluded.

Details on the new salt reduction targets can be found at: