The Food Standards Agency is riding roughshod over meat and cheese manufacturers in a desperate bid to meet its targets for reducing salt consumption, it has been claimed.
Disgruntled industry insiders have told The Grocer that FSA officials are ignoring processors’ advice as it gears up to publish a consultation containing targets for reducing salt content in a range of foods, including cheese and cured meats.
There is concern that the FSA will use the targets to meet its aim of cutting salt consumption to 6g per person per day by 2010 at the expense of quality and safety in some products.
One industry representative, who did not wish to be named,
said: “They are not discussing with us what the targets should be. They are just going to put the consultation out. We wonder whether it’s because this is the only way to achieve their targets for reduction of salt in the diet.”
Manufacturers of bacon and ham have told the FSA to consider safety before setting targets for reducing salt in cured meats.
Dairy manufacturers fear the FSA will renege on a deal struck in March, when processors agreed to cut salt in cheese by 5% this year and again in 2006.
Provision Trade Federation chairman Arthur Reeves said: “It is not appropriate to apply the same criteria to natural, agricultural products as to processed, composite foods.”
An FSA spokeswoman insisted that it had met with several associations in the meat and dairy industries to discuss its salt reduction strategy. “Targets are now being developed so that progress can be monitored in a transparent way.”
Richard Clarke