Salt and sodium research published

Posted by Josette Dunn on 22nd March 2010

The Food Standards Agency last Thursday published details of qualitative research exploring people’s preferences and understanding of the way in which salt and sodium information is presented on food labels.


People taking part in the research were keen for labelling of salt or sodium to be as clear and consistent as possible and preferred the use of the term ‘salt’ on food labels. This was because it was most familiar to them and because they did not necessarily understand the relationship between salt and sodium.

While there was understanding of the health consequences of eating too much salt, there was little awareness that sodium is the part of salt that can cause raised blood pressure if eaten in large quantities.

This piece of research was carried out to help inform the UK’s discussions in Europe and internationally on the best way to label foods.

Head of Nutrition at the Food Standards Agency, Clair Baynton, said: ‘Too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure, which increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. As a nation we are eating too much salt and here in the UK, a lot of work is going on to reduce salt in food products.

‘Our research highlights that although people have generally got the message that too much salt is bad for health, it’s not always easy for them to check how much they are eating as labelling can be confusing.’

This research was carried out by thepeoplepartnership and used a combination of in-depth interviews and group discussions. Fieldwork took place in six locations across the UK from 18 to 30 November 2009.