Salt in processed food: modelling food and intake reductions consultation
Thursday 2 October 2003
Views are sought on a model that the FSA has developed to examine the effect of reductions in the salt content of different food groups on the overall population intake of salt, and how this model might be used to inform future salt reduction activity
All comments and views should be sent to:
Food Standards Agency
Room 808C, Aviation House
Tel: 020 7276 8927
Responses are requested by: 31 October 2003
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report ‘Salt and Health’, published in May, recommended average salt intake in adults be reduced to 6g/day (in line with earlier advice from COMA, the forerunner of SACN). For the first time it also made recommendations for intakes by children, on a sliding scale based on age. The report is available at the link below.
The FSA’s Board discussed the report at its meeting in June 2003. It endorsed action with stakeholders to reduce salt intakes, and agreed a long-term aim to reduce the average population intake by a third over the next five years, in line with the SACN recommendations. Since then the FSA has:
- Highlighted the report to stakeholder organisations with an interest in salt as a public health issue.
- Written to public procurement bodies to bring the recommendations on salt to the attention of staff with food procurement responsibilities.
- Convened a meeting of stakeholders to discuss possible Government action to reduce salt intakes. Ideas suggested at the meeting included the possibility of compositional criteria (such as salt limits) for processed foods either on a statutory basis or by voluntary agreement.
- Continued discussions with the food industry (both representative organisations and individual companies) to encourage and agree salt reduction strategies.
To inform discussions on reducing the salt content of food the FSA has developed the enclosed model to explore the effect of changes in the salt content of different food groups.
The salt model is based on average sodium levels in foods within groups, weighted to take account of the different levels of consumption of different foods. From this starting point the model can be used to examine how changes in these average levels would impact on overall salt intakes in the population as a whole.
For illustrative purposes only at this stage ‘target average’ levels for different food groups have been modelled in the attached, which it is estimated would bring consumption to about the 6g/day target. These levels are based on bringing the average sodium content of each group down to the lower end of the current range of sodium levels. The notes accompanying the model give more information on this, and the working assumptions underlying the approach. We should emphasise that the target average levels included are just one of many possible ways of working toward the 6g target and, at this stage, do not necessarily represent specific targets as the basis for salt reduction activity.
The model itself, and the work to secure reductions in salt in processed food that it supports, represents just one strand of the FSA’s work on salt undertaken in conjunction with Health Departments. Subject to the views of stakeholders, the model could be used to inform further activity by Government and stakeholders to achieve salt intakes in line with the SACN recommendations. How this work might be structured will be explored in further consultation with stakeholders.
At this stage we would particularly like to seek your views on:
- Would you find a model like this a useful aid in discussing salt reduction strategies?
- Is the overall structuring right (should we, for example, attempt to sub-divide any of the food groups)?
- Is the idea of working on ‘target average levels’ practical, and are there any other factors that should be taken into account when setting these?
- Are the values in the model a reasonable starting point for further work?
- Would a suitably adapted version of this model be helpful as a means of monitoring salt reductions in foods and the impact of these on population intakes?
Any other comments you may have on these and other points would be welcome.
This consultation has been prepared in accordance with the HM Government Code of Practice on Consultation, which states that a consultation must follow better regulation best practice, including carrying out an Impact Assessment (Regulatory Impact Assessment in Scotland). The assessment is included in the consultation documents.
We are interested in what you thought of this consultation and would therefore welcome your general feedback on both the consultation package and overall consultation process. If you would like to assist us to improve the quality of future consultations, please feel free to share your thoughts with us by using the consultation feedback questionnaire.
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In accordance with the FSA principle of openness our Information Centre at Aviation House will hold a copy of the completed consultation. The FSA will publish a summary of responses, which may include personal data, such as your full name. Disclosure of any other personal data would be made only upon request for the full consultation responses. If you do not want this information to be released, please complete and return the Publication of Personal Data Form. Return of this form does not mean that we will treat your response to the consultation as confidential, just your personal data.
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