Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) launched its 8th National Salt Awareness Week on Monday 29th January - Sunday 4th February 2007. The theme for the Week was the progress that has been made in terms of salt reduction and labelling in the last 10 years since the organisation was formed, including what consumers can do to lower their salt intake.
A media release was issued during the Week highlighting that much has been done to reduce the amount of salt added to food in the UK. Our media release also highlighted the fact that people can now choose lower salt products in many food categories and urged a consumer boycott of those food products that remain persistently high in salt. A number of products and their lower salt alternatives were listed.
On the 31st January a lunchtime reception was held at the House of Commons, between 12.15 and 2pm. There were around 100 guests including representatives from retailers, food manufacturers, caterers, charities, MPs, Department of Health (DH), the Food Standards Agency (FSA), media and other stakeholders.
Coverage of National Salt Awareness Week messages was achieved across press, radio and online TV. A video package from the Press Association ran on several online news services. Additionally, in total, 17 radio interviews were broadcast.
The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Express, The Mirror and The Metro ran news stories on the CASH call to boycott high salt foods where lower salt alternatives exist. This coverage included the ‘good news’ aspect of our message - the fact that many foods with lower salt concentrations are now available. We were particularly pleased that the survey of over a hundred previously ‘named and shamed’ products ensured the coverage provided a balance between praise for those companies that are doing well alongside criticism of those products that have made little change – a balance that CASH always aims for but doesn’t always translate in the media coverage received.
In addition to the national press coverage, there was extensive regional press coverage, and many reports in online food industry websites and news services.
Several food companies and health-related bodies marked Salt Awareness Week with their own press releases and news items on their websites.
In total, we estimate that the media coverage of Salt Awareness Week reached 10 and a half million people.