CASH welcomes the news that salt intake continues to fall: 6000 lives have been saved so far

22nd July 2008

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) comments on today's announcement that the average UK salt intake has fallen to 8.6 g per day:

"This is the most important news that we have heard about health and eating for a long time.  Since the start of the salt reduction policy, salt intake has fallen in adults in the UK from 9.5g to 8.6 g per day, i.e. an approximate 10% reduction in the national salt intake.  This represents a massive 19,700 tonnes of salt per year that has been removed from the UK diet.  This is equivalent to the weight of over 3,000 male elephants, or the volume of over 50 community swimming pools.  Studies clearly suggest that each 1 g/day reduction in the average salt intake would prevent at a minimum approximately 7,000 stroke and heart attack deaths a year in the UK, due to the fall in blood pressure that would occur on a population level.  As salt intakes will continue to fall over the next few years, the effect of this salt reduction policy on strokes and heart attacks, the commonest cause of death in the UK, will become even larger.

“The reason that the average salt intake is falling is because many, but not all, food manufacturers and retailers, on an entirely voluntary basis, have reduced the amount of salt that they add to their foods.  The UK is leading the world in the drive to save lives by cutting salt and many other countries are now starting to follow the UK lead.  The Food Standards Agency has also announced that its programme will continue beyond 2012 and that it is introducing much stricter targets for the salt content of many categories of food.  The aim must be to get salt intake as low as we can in order to save even more people from dying unnecessarily from strokes, heart attacks and heart failure."

Carrie Bolt, CASH Nutritionist, comments:
"Many food manufacturers and retailers have now made quite large reductions in the amount of salt that they add to foods and these companies should be congratulated. However, there are still many companies that have made little effort to do this and we see wide differences in the salt content of many categories of foods.”  Below are a few examples of foods where similar products had much higher salt levels than comparable products from different manufacturers:

 

 Example of higher salt productSalt (g/100g) Example of lower salt product
Salt (g/100g)
Baked beans The Co-operative everyday baked beans in tomato sauce1.25Sainsbury’s basics baked beans0.5
CornflakesKellogg’s cornflakes1.8Asda cornflakes

0.8

Bread (wholemeal)Hovis Granary (medium sliced)1.25Sainsbury’s Wholemeal bread (medium sliced)0.7
 Tomato ketchupHeinz Tomato Ketchup3.1Tesco Organic tomato ketchup1.0
Sliced HamTesco cooked ham slices 2.5Asda cooked ham slices1.6
Cream cheeseKraft Philadelphia soft cheese1.0Sainsbury’s basic soft cheese0.5

 

“Incredibly, some of these products have as much as three times the salt content of similar products.  If one manufacturer can produce a particular food with lower levels of salt, it is self-evident that other manufacturers can also do it for the same product. Therefore, if these food manufacturers continue to refuse to co-operate with the new FSA salt targets, they should be highlighted and the public should be encouraged to boycott these unnecessarily high salt products."

-ends-

(Food product examples checked in store on 21.07.2008)