Last updated on 25 March 2010

Agency publishes salt commitments

salt crystals

The Agency has today published commitments from a range of retailers and manufacturers highlighting the progress being made on salt reduction.

Businesses working towards the Agency’s salt targets have provided details about their salt reduction programmes and progress they are making towards the Agency’s 2010 and 2012 targets. Commitments include entries from major UK and international manufacturers, the major UK retailers and key trade associations, and demonstrate the breadth of work being undertaken by industry to reduce the population’s salt intake.

Retailers and their suppliers have made reductions across a large range of everyday foods that we eat:

  • Asda, the Co-operative and Waitrose now meet the 2010 salt targets across their whole range, with Sainsbury's also on track to meet the targets
  • M&S and Morrisons meet 90% of the 2010 targets, with M&S bread and sandwiches now meeting the 2012 targets
  • Tesco’s products meet 2010 targets and 70% now meet 2012 targets
  • Lidl, Budgens and Londis are looking at how they can meet the 2012 targets

Manufacturers are tackling technical challenges in reducing salt levels whilst maintaining consumer acceptance and product safety:

  • Arla has reduced sodium content of cheese spreads, reduced by up to 46%
  • Bernard Matthews has taken between 30% and 50% of salt from its coated products while Kerry foods has removed up to 44% of salt from its sausages and 9% from its cured meats
  • The Association of Cereal Food Manufacturer's, including members such as Kellogs and NestlĂ© have reduced the amount of salt used in their products by around a half
  • Pepsico crisps now contain up to 55% less sodium

Burton Foods and United Biscuits are continuing their good work to reduce salt levels to the minimum in a challenging area where much of the sodium remaining in products now comes from raising agents.

Some manufacturers have made large salt reductions in soups and sauces: AB Foods cook-in sauces and pastes by 30 - 60%, and Heinz soups by 39%. General Mills, Kraft, Mars, McCain, Premier and Unilever have also made significant reductions in the levels of salt in their products, with much of their portfolios meeting the 2010 salt reduction targets.

Food Standards Agency Head of Nutrition, Clair Baynton, says: 'It’s extremely encouraging to see levels of salt in a wide range of food continuing to decrease, with many companies reaching 2010 targets and now working towards 2012 salt targets wherever possible.

‘Over the past few years, as a result of work being done by industry and the Agency, there has been a drop in people’s salt intakes – from 9.5g a day to 8.6g.

‘We still have a way to go before we reach the 6g target but the commitments to continued salt reduction that we have received from so many businesses are very positive and will help us achieve our goal.

‘The document we have published today will be regularly updated, to show how businesses’ salt reduction programmes are progressing. We are aware that there are increasing difficulties for businesses in continued salt reduction and we welcome their efforts to reduce salt to the lowest levels that are achievable in their products.'

The Agency has been working with food businesses since 2004 to encourage voluntary salt reductions. Targets were set in 2006 and updated last year to be even more challenging to encourage further reductions.

We have also received commitments from 44 catering businesses and their suppliers, which are published separately, on the catering section of our website (see first link below).

Too much salt can cause high blood pressure – which can lead to heart disease and stroke. People should aim to eat no more than 6g per day, less for children.

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