As a country we’re very patriotic, championing national days of celebration for everything from our apples to our chips.
But this week, we’re flying the flag for National Salt Awareness Week (26 March - 1 April) and as 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure, we should all pay attention - a message that must extend to retailers.
The latest figures show we consume more than 8.6g of salt each per day and that 75% of that salt is already contained in the foods bought from supermarkets. National Salt Awareness Week is a chance to reassess the current offering in the no-salt free-from grocery category - which is easier said than done.
The fact is that the current offering is non-existent. I know this because after suffering from extremely high blood pressure, I was ordered by consultants to cut salt from my diet. Scouring supermarket shelves I became baffled by the lack of no salt alternatives that would assist me in my bid to cut my salt levels and reduce my blood pressure.
What are the reasons for this overall lack of salt-free options in our supermarkets? The main challenge to the proposition has to be the common perception that no salt ultimately means lack of flavour and bland food.
At Hampstead Farm we know that all it takes is the careful combination of natural seasonings to create products that are just as flavoursome without any added salt - as demonstrated in our UK market-first completely salt-free range of four cooking sauces.
The pressure is on for supermarkets to respond by increasing their free-from sections and putting their focus on bringing salt-free products into the fold. Although most supermarkets have undertaken work to reduce salt in their own-label products, we still have a way to go to achieve the ideal benchmark set by the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in its 2011 report Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease - which called for the daily adult salt intake to drop to 6g by 2015 and to 3g by 2025.
As it stands, standard cooking sauces in supermarkets can contain up to 4g of salt in a 350g jar - which is extremely close to the total recommended daily intake for adults (at 6g), and the amount is even less for children. The report also states that achieving the stated level of salt reduction would lead to around 14,000-20,000 fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease.
The current government salt reduction targets are due to end in 2012 and so far no announcement has been made regarding the agreement of new salt reduction targets beyond 2012, so National Salt Awareness Week couldn’t be more timely.
We know our range isn’t going to cure the problem, but it certainly helps highlight the issue and will hopefully encourage the supermarkets to to grow their ‘free from’ sections to include no salt products.
And as it’s National Salt Awareness Week, take this chance to visit Kick the Pressure (www.kickthepressure.co.uk), a free online monitoring system that helps people control their blood pressure.
Kevin Stone is the founder of