The chair of the Responsibility Deal’s food network has warned the industry has a lot of work to do if the UK’s “world-leading” efforts to reduce salt consumption are not to stagnate.

Professor Susan Jebb spoke out this week, 12 months on from the launch of the government’s 2017 salt reduction targets, which has yet to see a single company sign up to so far this year.

Although 39 businesses, including all the major retailers, signed the targets last year, it is still way short of the 78 companies that signed the previous pledge on salt reduction. Jebb said much more needed to be done, especially from the out-of-home sector.

“We estimate that [salt reduction efforts have] saved around 6,000 lives each year, and UK businesses have every reason to be proud of this ground-breaking work. But we must also recognise that we all have a lot further to go if we are to do the best we can to reduce the burden of diet-related ill-health,” she explained.

About 60% of the retail and manufacturing market is currently covered by the 2017 pledges, including suppliers such as Heinz and Premier Foods, and foodservice operator Subway.