The government has scrapped plans for tougher salt reduction targets for many products, after accepting industry claims of technical barriers and risks of unacceptable taste changes.
In January, the DH postponed an overhaul until technical issues had been investigated. Now it plans to freeze - or even lower - targets for products such as meats, where in some categories fewer than one in five products are currently hitting 2012 targets.
For bacon, where only 16% of products have hit 2012 targets, the DH has proposed freezing the 2012 salt target at a processing average of 2.88g. Similarly, ham has been frozen at a processing average target of 1.63g. However, both will get new maximum targets.
With just 16% of sausages currently on track, the DH has proposed a relaxation of the maximum salt level from 1.13g in 2012 to 1.375g. It also plans to bring in a new sales-weighted average target to “motivate further progress”.
Targets are set to be frozen for pasties, pies and burgers, and relaxed for products including waffles and pancakes, with just over half of morning goods products hitting 2012 targets.
Canned veg targets will also be frozen, although the DH wants tougher targets for some products including baked beans, where just 12% of products hit 2012 targets.
“We want to get to the bottom of why the 2012 targets have not been met,” said Katharine Jenner, campaign director of Consensus Action on Salt and Health. “The answer surely isn’t to let these companies off the hook.”
However, the MD of one meat product company said: “We have made tremendous efforts in order to reduce salt in our products. It would be virtually impossible to make any significant further changes without completely undermining the taste.”