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Salt Awareness Week
Public health campaign group call for the food industry to step up and lower the nation’s salt intake
This March, Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) urged the food industry to take responsibility for the part they play in the nation’s health during their annual campaign, Salt Awareness Week.
Most of the salt we eat and drink is already in the food we buy, making it hard to control how much salt we eat. The campaign group called for manufactures to lower the amount of salt they put in their products and meet the 2017 salt reduction targets - voluntary targets set by the government for the food manufacturers - and for Public Health England to set new targets for 2020.
With the end of 2017 in sight, CASH’s research shows that the current targets are unlikely to be met. So far the only the category that is on track to meet the target for the maximum amount of salt is bread rolls.
There is no need for manufactured foods to contain so much salt.
CASH used the FoodSwitch UK App to compare similar food products and found huge differences in the amount of salt they contain, showing there is no need for salt levels to be so high. They used two shopping baskets containing similar everyday food items to demonstrate the difference – one contained a staggering 60g more than the other.
Their survey showed that some retailers and manufacturers who have managed to lower the salt content of some products by 30% whereas others are dragging their heels.
The forgotten killer
Our recent opinion poll found that only 12% of people in the UK know that eating too much salt is the leading cause of high blood pressure, making this year’s theme Salt: The Forgotten Killer, incredibly apt.
Over the week CASH reminded people that salt raises blood pressure which leads to strokes, heart attacks and thousands of unnecessary deaths each year. They provided posters and leaflets to more than 600 pharmacies, schools, libraries and GP surgeries, ensuring their message reached communities across the UK.
The highlight of the week
The highlight of the week was a reception at the House of Commons on Tuesday 21 March. More than 100 guests attended, including members of the food industry and healthcare professionals. There were displays from McCain, LoSalt, The Co-operative, Kiddyum, Kudos Blends and SALTernative who showcased their reduced salt products and demonstrated their commitment to salt reduction.
Andrea Martinez-Inchausti from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) told attendees that BRC members, such as Tesco and Waitrose, are committed to salt reduction but would like to have government support to help them with further reductions. Anthony Whitington, who helped his dad to change his lifestyle to save his life, a story told in the BBC documentary, Fixing Dad, gave a heart-felt speech about the importance of reducing processed food consumption.
Our host for the day, Sir David Amess, and CASH Chairman Professor Graham MacGregor also spoke of the importance of not allowing salt reduction to be forgotten by the government. Lowering the nation’s salt intakes from the current average of 8g a day to the recommended 6g could save around 14,000 lives and £3 billion for the NHS every year.
The team from Blood Pressure UK were there to measure people’s blood pressure and give advice on keeping it under control.
See CASH's ideas and advice on how to eat less salt.
Learn more about Salt Awareness Week and how CASH are campaigning to lower the nation's salt intake.
Make healthier food choices with the FoodSwitch App.