Meat processors are close to agreeing upper limits for salt content in meat products.
A working group made up of the MLC, the Food and Drink Federation and the British Meat Processors Association are to send revised guidelines to FSA officials for review this month.
If agreed, all members of the BMPA - which represents the majority of branded and private label manufacturers - will have to abide by the limits as a condition of membership.
Products covered by the code include cooked meats, sausages, pork pies, burgers and ready meals containing meat. Bacon, ham and other cured products will be excluded after independent advisers warned that food safety could be
compromised. Besides adding flavour, salt is an essential preservative in such products.
The upper limits have been set at levels designed to help the FSA reach its target of reducing people’s daily salt consumption by 1g at the end of 2005, said
Guy Attenborough, head of communications at the MLC.
“This will equate to an average reduction of salt in processed meat products of 10%,” he added.
The working group has refused to set longer term targets now, as it wants to gauge this initiative’s success. Attenborough denied that the industry was offering the guidelines to the FSA in a bid to avoid being hit by a traffic light system warning on packaging.
“The meat products industry believes that there are some health issues to do with over-consumption of sodium and we wish to play our part in addressing this,” he said.
However, Attenborough also urged health officials to keep the issue of salt in meat products in perspective.
“The average person consumes two rashers of bacon and two sausages a week.
“The contribution of these products to sodium consumption is relatively small.”
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