The current sugar debate has captured the public imagination but is adding to confusion about Health and food.
Last week, US research claiming sugar could have a stronger link to high blood pressure than salt made headlines, even though it was refuted by two UK scientists. Our own research shows while fat remains the UK’s top nutritional worry, in the space of a year sugar has overtaken salt to be the second-biggest concern.
It’s clear consumers and many food companies are confused. So it’s really important people understand the facts: that an overwhelming bank of research has linked high salt intake to high blood pressure.
In the UK, we consume 33% more salt than is recommended; 8.1g versus the adult daily maximum recommendation of 6g. Despite extensive work by the FSA and an aim of getting consumption down to 6g by 2010, we’ve only seen a reduction of 0.9g in eight years.
Current government advice tells consumers to check the label and choose lower-salt options, go easy on high-salt foods and cook with less, use fresh ingredients, herbs and spices and make your own stock.
Yet the message isn’t getting across: 75% of people don’t know the maximum daily recommendation for salt, and 87% don’t think they are consuming too much, so it’s not surprising to find 64% are not trying to reduce their salt intake. Taste remains king, and people are concerned about loss of flavour. This, combined with sugar dominating the headlines, means concerns about salt are diminishing.
It’s important the issue of salt isn’t sidelined, and the industry needs to take a lead. Great progress has already been made in stealth salt reduction in manufacturing, and this needs to continue to wean consumers off the salty taste many are used to. I’d like to see more companies sign up for targets and for them to be made compulsory.
We are currently waiting for a report on potassium-based salt alternatives from SACN and I hope this will provide more guidance about reducing salt without loss of flavour - a vital combination.
Caroline Klinge is sales and marketing manager at Lo Salt