FSA sets new salt reduction target for food brands

The Food Standards Agency has today (May 18) released revised salt reduction targets for food brands to meet by 2012, but the British Retail Consortium warns the changes could turn off consumers.

The voluntary salt reduction targets have been set for 80 categories of food, with bread, meat products, cereals, pizza brands, ready-made meals ands savoury snacks to be the most effected.

For example, under the old target, for a loaf of bread, brands were asked to aim to reduce the amount of salt to 1.1 grams per 100 grams by 2010. This has now been revised down to 1 gram per 100 grams by 2012.

In another example, for a can of baked beans, while the FSA recommended salt to be reduced to 0.8 grams per 100 grams by 2010, this has now been revised to 0.63 grams per 100 grams to be met by 2012.

The new 2012 targets are part of the FSA’s ongoing commitment to reduce the daily average population intake of salt reduced to six grams a day.

Rosemary Hignett, FSA head of nutrition, says: “We welcome the reductions in salt levels that have already been achieved by industry, and its continued co-operation 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 FSA says further public awareness activity on salt is set to launch in autumn this year.

But the British Retail Consortium argues the new targets will be much harder to meet due to changes in consumer tastes.

Stephen Robertson, BRC director general, says: “Our members are Europe’s leaders in salt reduction and have made fantastic progress in the last decade. The FSA has rightly recognised these exceptional achievements.

“But the new salt targets are much harder and, in some cases, we believe customers won’t accept the change in taste. It‘s crucial we take customers with us as tastes don’t change overnight.”

Robertson adds that it would be “perverse” to cut the amount of salt in products to the point of reducing a product’s shelf life and increasing food waste. He says it would compromise “a key part of the Government’s food policy”.

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