In 2011 under the new coalition government, responsibility for nutrition and consequently the salt targets, moved away from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to the Department of Health. It was at this time that the Public Health Responsibility Deal (RD) was born with the aim of getting all major stakeholders involved in improving public health within the UK by voluntary means. This consisted of a series of pledges made by the food industry and other stakeholders regarding food, alcohol, occupational health and physical activity. As a voluntary scheme, organisations were encouraged to sign up to the Deal and commit to taking action in relevant fields, whether it be in nutrition, exercise, health at work or alcohol.
To date, four sets of targets have been published by government bodies, (2006, 2009, 2011 and 2014) covering around 80 individual product categories. The most recent targets were published in 2014 – which are to be achieved by 2017. These were originally developed under the Public Health Responsibility Deal, which as of 2016 now ceases to operate.
The salt reduction programme is now being led by Public Health England as part of their sugar reduction and wider reformulation programme – a commitment in Childhood obesity: a plan for action. These provide guidance to industry on the levels of salt that they should be aiming to achieve and have resulted in gradual, stepwise reductions in salt levels being made across the categories included. The targets have also provided a basis for monitoring progress.
The 2017 targets can be found here and include targets for 76 categories of food, along with 11 salt targets for the out of home sector. PHE announced during Salt Awareness Week 2018 that sales weighted data has been purchased from Kantar and will be used to review industry later this year, so as to inform Government of next steps.