The amount of salt in sliced bread is to be cut by 5% immediately as demanded by food manufacturers yesterday, according to newspaper reports.

The move came ten days after the Department of Health criticised leading food companies for failing to reduce the level of salt in food.

In a plan sent to John Reid, the Health Secretary, and Melanie Johnson, the Public Health Minister, manufacturers also agreed that salt in breakfast cereals would fall by a further 9% by the end of the year, a 25% reduction in the past five years.

Companies have also set maximum salt levels for burgers, sausages, pasties and pies.

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