Salt levels in bread, soup and biscuits will be slashed as the food industry responds to an ultimatum from the Department of Health.
The health minister Melanie Johnson told an industry “salt summit” in November that some processed foods could be labelled ‘high in salt’ unless the industry had salt reduction targets ready this month.
The British Retail Consortium, the Food and Drink Federation, and the NFU have now set out new voluntary standards.
The British Retail Consortium’s new policy framework for salt minimisation targets a 25% reduction in salt content in nine own label categories in five years - own label baked beans, loaves, breakfast cereals, quiches, pizza,
ready meals, sandwiches, soups and cook-in sauces.
Meanwhile, the FDF has fed back pledges on the same categories to the DoH on behalf of the manufacturer groups it represents. These include a 5% reduction in salt in sliced and wrapped bread. Salt will also be reduced in biscuits over several years to allow customers to become used to the consequent change of flavour.
The FDF Meat Group and the British Meat Processors Association hope to present a strategy to government by May.
The FDF and the BRC called for a wider-reaching education campaign on health as they announced the reductions. FDF deputy director general Martin Paterson and British Retail Consortium director of food policy Richard Ali both called for cohesive government led action on diet and exercise.
A spokesman for the DoH said the industry response on salt reduction would be analysed. If it was inadequate, labelling “may be one answer”.
Johnson said recently that once salt was under control, her next target was sugar.
Anne Bruce