Proposals to revise the voluntary salt reduction targets
Tuesday 22 July 2008
We seek your views and comments on the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) proposals to revise the voluntary salt reduction targets and to review the monitoring arrangements.
All comments and views should be sent to:
Food Standards Agency
St Magnus House
25 Guild Street
Responses are requested by: 31 October 2008
The key proposals are:
- To revise in the light of experience, and progress to date, the UK targets for the levels of salt in key categories of manufactured foods. Revised targets are proposed for a limited range of food categories for 2010, and new targets are proposed for most foods (with some minor exceptions) for 2012.
- To revise some product category descriptions.
- To adopt a rolling programme of biennial reviews of industry progress and the need for further adjustments to the targets. The first review would take place in 2010.
- To revise the monitoring framework for the salt reduction policy.
In Scotland, a population level dietary target of 6 grams per day was set in 1996 for 2005 and this target has recently been reiterated until 2010. Further details on the rationale for, and scope of, the government’s salt reduction programme is set out in Annex A.
The programme has three key strands:
- a public awareness campaign to make consumers aware of why a high salt intake is bad for their health and what they can do to reduce intakes;
- working with the food industry to reduce levels of salt in foods; and
- front of pack labelling to provide additional information to consumers on the levels of salt, and other nutrients, in food.
Establishment of voluntary targets for salt content in certain key manufactured-food categories was intended to provide a means of monitoring and reporting progress towards intake reductions and provide guidance to businesses. The FSA’s Strategic Plan to 2010 set out the UK wide objective, working with health departments/directorates and stakeholders, to reduce the average UK intakes of salt. In Scotland commitments to work on reformulation have been restated in ‘Healthy Eating, Active Living; An action plan to improve diet, increase physical activity and tackle obesity (2008-2011)’ and similar commitments have been re-stated in other parts of the UK.
In March 2006, following a public consultation, the FSA published a set of 85 voluntary salt reduction targets covering a wide range of foods. At that time it committed to reviewing both progress towards the targets and the target levels themselves in 2008.
Revised targets for levels of salt in key food categories
This consultation is seeking views on proposals to revise the voluntary salt reduction targets that were published in 2006 in the light of experience gained in the last two years. The proposed revised targets have been informed by a series of meetings with industry, independent experts and non-government organisations (NGOs). They take into account current salt levels in products, technical constraints, food safety issues and consumer acceptability. The FSA would urge industry to continue to reduce sodium levels as far as possible. An account of how the targets were developed is provided in Annex A.
A number of changes to the salt targets published in 2006 have been made. These include revised product descriptions and proposals for new targets as follows.
- The product categories for which stricter salt targets are proposed for 2010 are: bacon; ham & other cured meats; cooked sausages & sausage meat; meat pies; mozzarella; other processed cheeses; margarines & other spreads; extruded snacks; pelleted snacks; salt & vinegar snacks; cakes; tomato ketchup; mayonnaise (reduced fat/calories); and other processed potato products.
- New and stricter salt target levels for all product categories have been proposed for 2012 with some minor exceptions.
- Some redefining of food categories to better suit food products on the market and facilitate improved user understanding is being proposed. The following categories are affected: cooked uncured meats; frankfurters; cheddar cheese: cottage cheese; ready meals; soups; pizzas; pastries; fruit pies; thick pastes (formally part of Pesto and other thick sauces); sweet biscuits; pasta excluding ready meals; all other processed puddings; other canned fish; and processed vegetable-based products (now meat alternatives).
The proposed revised product categories, and targets for 2010 and 2012, are provided in Annex B.
The results of the recent 2008 urinary analysis survey provide a positive indication of a downward trend in sodium intakes. Our best estimate of average GB population intakes for 2008 is 8.6g compared to 9.0g in 2005/06 and 9.5g in 2000/01. Clearly further work is needed to meet the public health recommendations for salt intakes of not more than 6g per day for adults and less for children. We therefore intend to introduce a regular review of progress on a biennial basis, to ensure continued and steady progress on salt reduction, with the next review taking place in 2010. At the 2010 review point we will assess:
- progress against the 2010 targets, and our 6g strategic objective;
- progress made towards the 2012 targets;
- what further action may be necessary, including scope for adjustment of 2012 targets and the need for targets beyond 2012.
Monitoring progress towards the 6g target
The FSA has considered representations from industry on the resource implications of the self reporting framework and a proposed scheme is set out in Annex A, sections 7 and 8.
Points to consider for this consultation
We would welcome any comments you may have on the categories and targets proposed. We would particularly like to seek your views on:
- the revised and new targets and the timescale for meeting them as set out in Annex B;
- the revised category descriptions, and the revised and redefined target categories, as set out in Annex B;
- the proposal to adopt a rolling programme of biennial reviews of industry progress and the need for any adjustments to the targets. The first review would take place in 2010.
- the proposals for a revised monitoring scheme set out in Annex A sections 7 and 8.
- the Impact Assessment.
Actions following the consultation
Once the consultation is completed, comments made will be taken into account during revisions to the product categories and targets. It is anticipated that the final targets will be published by the end of December 2008.
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.
Publication of personal data and confidentiality of responses
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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