World Health Organisation experts have urged national governments to bring in new laws forcing manufacturers to reduce salt content in foods in a bid to cut consumption.

A WHO committee report on salt published this month warns: "If agreed [voluntary] goals are not met in a timely way, regulatory approaches should be enforced. This point may have already been reached in countries where for years voluntary approaches have proved ineffective."

The report calls for a cut in consumption to an average of 5g per person a day - more ambitious than the Food Standards Agency's goal of achieving a maximum daily intake of 6g by 2010. An FSA spokeswoman said there were no plans to modify its target.

The UK's Salt Manufacturers Association reacted angrily to the report. Peter Sherratt, general secretary, said: "The great problem with these latest salt intake recommendations is that they blanket the population. Individuals have different salt requirements.

"There is a growing group of medical and nutritional experts around the world who argue that a population-wide salt reduction policy will only have benefits for those who already have high blood pressure - and could put many others at risk."